Why Do We Judge?
Why Do We Judge?
Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2
Jesus’ command to not judge others comes with a clear explanation of why we should follow it. Jesus is clear about the stakes — God will judge me according to the same standard I use when judging others. If I am harsh and unyielding with others, God will be harsh and unyielding with me. If I am gentle and patient with others, God will be gentle and patient with me. Why then would I ever violate this commandment? Even with a perfectly clear academic understanding of this verse we still find ourselves casting judgment on others. Why are we so tempted to cast judgment? Other sins, such as stealing or lying, are tempting because the potential result of the sin appears so tangibly profitable. This could be said about a lot of sins, however I do not believe it could be said about the sin of casting judgment. What do we stand to gain by judging others? Despite the sin not being tangibly profitable, it is a sin that many of us struggle with more than most sins. As we examine this commandment and our hearts, let me propose two reasons why we still commit the sin of judgmentalism.
1) The sin of judgmentalism is one that is easy to hide. There are many secret sins to engage in, but almost all secret sins have a tangible aspect of them, providing a fear of the sin becoming known. The thought of being caught in the ugliness of sin can often be enough to keep us away from that sin, while the sin of casting judgment on others can stay entirely in our own mind. Knowing that a sinful thought is private and not acted on further makes the sin easier for us to justify. Jesus addresses this concept with the sin of lust in Matthew 5.27-28: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt 5:27-28). Even with no intention to act on our judgmental thoughts, just as Jesus explains with lust, the thoughts themselves must be purged out.
2) This sin of judgmentalism puts us in the place of God. Since nearly the existence of sin, man has been tempted by power and wanting to be in the position of God. When Cain and Abel present offerings to God in Genesis 4, God “had regard” (Gen 4.4) for Abel’s offering but “had no regard” (Gen 4.5) for Cain’s offering. Cain is so upset about God’s judgment that he decides to take matters into his own hands and kills Abel (Gen 4.8). The sin of casting judgment on others is often rooted in pride. When we disagree with
God’s judgment our judgmentalism can easily develop into other sins as it did for Cain in this extreme example. Take note of how these judgmental thoughts could affecting out outward behavior. God gives another reminder that we are not His equals nor are we to take what is His in Deuteronomy 32.35-36, “Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; Their foot shall slip in due time; For the day of their calamity is at hand, And the things to come hasten upon them.“ ’For the Lord will judge His people And have compassion on His servants, When He sees that their power is gone, And there is no one remaining, bond or free” (Deut 32.35-36). Thinking that we are in the place to judge others shows a mindset that we think we can be equal to God. God is the ultimate Judge. Leaving judgment to Him shows trust and humility as His followers, not his equals. We often remember that vengeance is the Lord’s, but do not forget that judgment is the Lord’s as well.
What a blessing it is to know that we have a perfect God who is the perfect Judge. Despite how tempting it may be to judge others, we should feel liberated in knowing that it is not our job to judge. Our perfect Father is the ultimate Judge. When judgmental thoughts enter our mind it may seem as if they are only our own, but the perfect Judge knows our thoughts. Those judgmental thoughts are often rooted in pride, which can easily lead to other outward sins. When judgmental thoughts come, as tempting as they may seem or as justified as we may feel to think them, take liberty in letting God be the Judge, and do not judge so that you will not be judged.