A tattoo, covering the entire forearm of a young woman, arrested my attention. I read and reread the dark blue inky words, “God is my Judge”. An unpleasant memory triggered.
I had been judged and snubbed by close friends, those whom I trusted and had felt especially close to. I was sorely misunderstood. Now, I felt that pain, sadness and heartache prick my heart again. It rekindled an old, familiar adage: “Unless you've walked a mile in my shoes, don’t judge me!”
Until judged harshly, until false presumptions left me feeling like I had been punched in the stomach, I had failed to personally understand how wounding judgmental words are. They crush and reduce a person’s character. They ruin relationships.
Neither did Samuel, an anointed prophet! When he looked at David, he saw a shepherd boy, small in stature, the youngest brother and least experienced. David was chosen by God because he had a heart for God, but Samuel missed it. (1 Samuel 16:1-13) Even the spiritually mature are tempted to judge others!
Since that time, when I’m being judged by someone else, or when I’m tempted to judge others, I slow my thought process, and monitor what I say. Often, I zip my lip!
Recalling the following truths are effective.
Judgments most often lack accuracy. Emotions, opinions and assumptions, or personal prejudices usually influence and form them. They’re scarce on sensitivity.
When we speak evil of others, in the sense of condemning them, we are guilty of putting ourselves in God’s place. There is only one Judge…Jesus Himself. (James 4:11-12) Because God is the only one who can accurately judge, the apostle Paul states, “we regard no one from a worldly point of view.” (2 Corinthians 5:16)
Judgments are like “bitter waters” which are worldly and demonic in nature. (James 3:9-12)
If I think I see a flaw in another person’s character, I should take an even closer look at myself first. (Matthew 7:3) I see that I sin too, just differently from others. Without God’s help, I’m no different than anyone else when it comes to sinning.
After I've acknowledged my sin and repented, after receiving God’s unconditional love, forgiveness and grace, my transformed heart changes my view of others. I see “their speck” with a non-judgmental attitude. With love and humility, I want to show them the way to Jesus.
There are things, “splinters”, in all our lives we are blind to. Instead of putting on our judge’s robe, let’s come alongside one another in gentleness, humility and love. And that’s possible only when we first remove the “beam” in ourselves.