Judge Others Carefully!

This week’s title to the blog is purposefully provocative. I want us to think about it before making the proverbial “snap judgment” about the matter of judging others. I have heard individuals boast about their penchant and even skill in “sizing up” people and situations.

Quick assessments like this make me wary (and even weary!) of those who brag about such things! It suggests that a person is more interested in giving others a piece of their mind no matter how shallow that grey matter may be! I admit that in making this assessment, I may be seriously guilty of making my own “snap judgments!” I’m sorry! 😧

Image credit: clipart-library.com

Several years ago, I sat down at a local coffee shop with a good friend who is about half my age. We try to schedule these chats every so often. I love multi-generational conversations and find them invigorating. They inform and even stretch my assumptions.

On this occasion, a bit of relational advice was shared in the middle of a discussion concerning a friend’s questionable behavior. My friend shared this counsel from a retired Army lieutenant colonel he admires. The Lt. Col. advised, “Don’t judge others for living life.” I immediately took a napkin from the table and wrote down this curious comment. I promised my friend that I’d think more about it later. That was June of 2017 and I’m still thinking about this six years later!

I did a search of notable quotes this week about judging. Here are three that spoke to me…

1.     “If you judge people you have no time to love them.” Mother Teresa

2.     “Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

3.     “Often I have asked myself, what would it be like if I no longer had any desire to judge another? Or be controlled by the judgment of others? I would walk the earth as a very light person indeed.” Henri Nouwen

While the Bible does instruct us to be discerning, “Be wise as serpents, but harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16, NJKV), Jesus cautions us to take great care when judging others. Do not let “snap judgments” or similar unwise assessments degrade into carping criticism and harmful judgmentalism. This will only disrespect others and push them away!

Eugene Peterson paraphrases Jesus' words about the consequences of carelessly being critical of others: “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults – unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging.” (Matthew 7:1-2, MSG). Jesus changed more lives by showing kindness and love! 

Perhaps the title to this piece should have been, “Judge Others Prayerfully!” Praying for others will help us to see persons as fellow human beings whom Jesus loves and died for on the cross! A better strategy of relating is to pray for opportunities to sincerely engage and befriend others. Only when there is a genuine and caring relationship can we expect to gain a hearing and earn another’s trust. Judge with both your head and your heart!

Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to work on us so that we may better reflect the love that God has for all the world!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com


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