When we meet new people, we immediately, unconsciously categorise them based on our first impressions of them. We jump to conclusions about their character and ability in a matter of minutes or even seconds! We treat it as expected and acceptable human behaviour. Some even call it intuition – but should this be the norm?
This is something that has been laying on my heart for a quite a while. I believe it is something that God is trying teach me and to help me grow out of. I have realised that judgement is something that I do; often without even thinking, or realising that I am doing it. I could see someone wearing shoes that I personally wouldn’t wear and think, “She could do with a make over!” I could even see someone smoking and think to myself, “Why are you doing this to yourself?” But to be quite frank who am I to criticise anyone?
Jesus says in Matthew 7:1-5, “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.”
As the Scripture says, any of these examples could easily be me. The tables can turn very quickly and the measure I use on others will also be used on me. “The critical spirit has a way of boomeranging” (Matthew 7:2 MSG). Someone once gave an example, “The speck that you see in your neighbour’s eye could just be a piece of the log that is in your own eye dangling into your view.” Judging others is often an act of pride. However, not all judgements are bad, John 7:24 says, “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” I believe to judge something correctly is through the power of the Holy Spirit by discernment.
“Incorrect” judgement is hurtful, it spreads negativity into the world and perpetuates stereotypes. The best way to stop judging is to pray and ask God to open your eyes and your heart so that you can see and understand things beyond your own preconceived notions of how things should be but instead to see things as God sees them. It is important to embrace the love of God which is in you (Romans 5:5). This will cause you to show genuine love for all humans making you less inclined to judge others.
Other practical steps to take would be to monitor your thoughts and pay attention to them and make sure they are not veering away from a positive route! Lastly but not least, focus on your own life. It is easy to criticise others when you are not dealing with the issues in front of you. Focusing on what God has called you to do will cause you to judge less and love more.