For several years I was asked to teach a class at Lenoir Rhyne College. I had a dear friend and neighbor who was a professor who taught a class each year called, The Whole Woman. I would do a single class on what it meant to be a spiritual woman.
As I was preparing to speak, one of the students (right on the front row) proceeded to take out earbuds as I was talking and insert them haughtily into her ears, while staring straight into my face. I was immediately offended and angered by her actions. I am not shy by any stretch of the imagination so I thought, “Two can play that game.” In front of the whole class I asked her to remove them.
She was deaf!! They were the only way she could hear me.
If I did not believe in God’s sovereignty, I would have given up serving Him a long time ago. That is only a small taste of some of the mistakes and misjudgments I have made in my life.
I saw something happening and thought I knew her heart and motive. My emotions immediately validated everything as true and reacted. Not only was it not true, it was the opposite of the truth. The only way she could hear me was the earbuds and she was looking at me intently trying to read my lips as she put the earbuds in.
I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me whole. You would think that would have cured this woman of judging others and their motives, but it has not. I cannot tell you one good thing that has ever come into my life from being another person’s judge…ever.
Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?
I have to wonder if the book of James is so harsh about judging because he judged his brother and was cruel to him. His brother was Jesus Christ.
After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him.
A well known fact in Jesus’ day was that the religious leaders wanted to get rid of Him. In essence, Jesus wasn’t going to Judea because it might cause Him to be murdered. His brothers didn’t seem to care.
They thought Jesus was proud and trying to make a name for Himself. There is a reason they thought these things. They were judging Him based on their own hearts. Every single thing I spot in another person, I’ve got in me. “Spot it, got it.”
This doesn’t mean we don’t call something what it is. If someone murders someone and we tell the police, we aren’t judging. We are stating a fact. If someone abuses their child and we confront them or report them, that is not judging. It is doing the right thing.
Judging says, “I know your deepest motivation for doing what you’re doing.”
Like thinking that student was tuning me out. How dare she do that to me! How I reacted to my pride being touched is kind of appalling to me now.
When God tells us not to do something, we should take heed. He is telling us how to live peaceful and very happy lives. Judging will get people on our side because humans (including me) love some juicy gossip.
The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.
We can all act as if we hate to hear things about others, but most of us are lying to ourselves. It takes faith and courage to say, “I don’t want to hear that about someone else.” It takes even more faith and courage to speak up for someone (in their absence) when their character is being maligned. Even if what they are saying looks like it’s true, what if it’s the opposite (like the earbuds)?
No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit.
1 Corinthians 2:11
Did you catch that? NO ONE can know a person’s thoughts. It is impossible. We can’t really even trust what people say. Their thoughts don’t always match what they say they are thinking. When someone says, “Do I look fat?” Do you say “yes” if they do?
When we judge and speak about others’ motives, God says we are really putting ourselves in His place.
Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it.
There is only one Lawgiver and Judge and it is not me or you. I will judge you harshly and you will do the same to me. Why? Because our own hearts accuse others of what’s deep inside of us.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Those words are red in many Bibles because they came from the mouth of Jesus Christ. We should not take them lightly. I will be judged the same way I judge others’ motives. How can Jesus say that so confidently? When we say horrible things about others, we are hypocrites who are hiding our true motives. Hypocrites are mask wearers. If we would let God expose our motives to us (in our prayer closets) we would not dare say anything about another person.
I have never met the man I could despair of after discerning what lies in me apart from the grace of God.
This blog is for me more than it is for you. As I find myself judging motives and hearts, I hate it. It does nothing good in me and takes my focus from the beauty of Jesus Christ and steals the joy and peace He would put in my heart.
Let’s be people who think the best of others and don’t judge by appearances. Jesus was judged more harshly than any of us will ever be and that precious Man kept His mouth shut and left all judgment to God. Oh how I wish I were more like Him.
I’m still breathing so there is time to let His words about judgment help me and I hope you will let them help you. Let’s decide and hold each other accountable when we want to judge. Let’s pray for the people we want to judge. If we think we see evil in them, it’s worth a conversation with God. We should pray that God helps them and lets them see truth so they can live the life God has called them to.
But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
God has promised us a great reward if we will live this way. Judging makes us feel good in the moment but it robs us of our joy and peace. Even if people are wicked, our Father is kind to them. We should be too.