Written By Kelsey Tarver, USA
I used to think like this: Judgmental? Not me! I can’t stand people who judge others.
The contradiction was right there in the statement, and somehow I was oblivious to it. But I said this boldly because I meant it.
The very sound of the word “judgmental” makes me cringe. If I close my eyes, it makes me picture a proud face with a stuck up nose, glaring eyes, and an air of disapproval looming in my direction. But the worst kind of judgment is the kind that comes from a loved one or a friend.
I know all about being judged. Growing up as a pastor’s kid, I became used to all eyes being glued to my family. Like a giant magnifying glass constantly observing; “What is she wearing? Why were they late to church today? Is that a new car? How did they afford that? Why is she talking in service?” Even into my adult years as a member of staff in a church, I have felt the constant eyes critiquing my every move.
Of course, not everyone was like this. For the most part I loved growing up in front of so many people in a loving church family. But aren’t there always just a few members who know how to make your blood boil? I would store them in a place in my mind that said, “Well, I love them but I don’t have to like them.”
This created a passion in me to never judge other people. I longed to extend grace and understanding, and judgmental gossip alone would make rage stir up inside my soul. My sensitivity towards this was birthed out of a very pure place. I simply longed so deeply for others to not have to feel bullied or judged, and I wanted everyone I encountered to feel accepted and loved.
But somehow along the way this pure desire ended up manifesting itself into a form of judgment that my eyes could not see. What was once an aspiration towards true love turned into love for people who were like me, with limited grace towards others who struggled with judgment or gossip.
The irony is thick! The very thing I hated, ended up being exactly what I became.
The trap of judgement
As Christians, I think it can be very easy to fall into the trap of judgment because we all have a high standard of how we want each other to live. We know what the Bible says and we expect each other to act like it. Unfortunately, when judgment sneaks its way into our church walls, we start looking a whole lot more critical of one another and a lot less like love.
Judgment has a slippery little way of sneaking its way into our hearts if we aren’t paying attention to our motives. It’s a sin that can sometimes be birthed from a pure place of longing for justice, but when only justice is present and grace gets left behind it leaves both sides feeling wounded. As Christian writer C.S. Lewis said, “See the Bear in his own den before you judge his conditions.”
Maybe that person absolutely hates that they are judgmental or gossipy. Maybe just like any other addict, they have to work each and every day to jump over their hurdle of their temptation to judge. Maybe their mom, or grandma, or family comes from a long line of being very judgmental and it’s all they’ve ever been around and have to work their tail end off to stay positive.
I judged judgmental people because I had, by accident, boxed them up and labeled them all the same. Gossips, pot stirrers, mean, etc. but the thing is no one person is the same. Each person has different life experiences, pains, and pasts shaping them. Lewis also says, “Don’t judge a man by where He is, because you don’t know how far He has come.”
Once I understood that hurt people, hurt people, it made me feel more sympathetic to people who spend so much time talking about others or tearing them down with judgment or gossip.
Love one another
We are to love judgers the same way we would an alcoholic or a sex or drug addict. To know that every person has a weakness, and that the quickest way to helping one another overcome our issues is to lay our judgment aside and learn to simply be there for one another, in love and in grace.
Scripture is very clear about judgment. I cringe now thinking that I used to hear lessons about judgment and somehow thought it wasn’t my burden to bear. God taught me to check my heart, know my worth, and never ever think that I had something mastered in my faith walk. The enemy loves to watch pride manifest in the areas that we think we have under control.
It is human nature to have certain people we connect to more than others in the body of Christ. But God has taught me that though that might be true, each and every person deserves to be treated with the same level of love and respect, even if it seems extremely hard to do so.
God gives us the ability to love deeper than we could have ever dreamed, and this applies even to those people who just seem to crawl under our skin. Unity is essential to the bride of Christ, and when we truly leave judgment at the door, it leaves a much more beautiful and whole picture of true Christ-like love on display.
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5)