Judgement and walking in another’s shoes

The Bible says that we shouldn’t judge … but it’s hard not to.  When talking to another person, my mind is constantly assessing, forming opinions on – and let’s face it, judging what they’re saying.  We make decisions on what we like / dislike, agree with / disagree with, think is right / wrong.  We judge.

Not that this is necessarily a bad thing – we sniff milk that’s been left for slightly too long in the fridge to judge if it’s good to drink.  Similarly, we judge what people say / write to see whether it is wholesome – or not – for our minds, spirits or souls.  We use the innate judgement that God has given us.

But when we judge in a different way we can be in effect saying that we are worthier of God’s love / forgiveness / attention etc than the person we are talking to.  Whose standards are we using here – God’s?  Or our own?  How are we ranking ourselves against them – is that particular sin worse than the sins of pride, lack of forgiveness, jealousy etc. that we – unknowingly or otherwise – commit every day? Or do we claim that we are using God’s standards in order to justify our own reactions?

When Jesus talked to the woman taken in adultery, there is no recorded statement of condemnation or comment on her behaviour.  When he talked to the woman at the well about her marital history, we learn that she has had five different men, but do not hear Jesus castigating her about it.  When he talked to Peter after his resurrection, he does not berate Peter for his denial.  Did Jesus think these were wrong?  I would hazard to suggest – yes – the first because of the effect it would have had on her husband, the other man, possibly on herself; the second, similarly; the third not least because of the hurt that Jesus must have felt when one of his closest friends turned his back on him.

But what we hear in each case is an over-riding message of love and affirmation.  Jesus says to the woman taken in adultery: “I do not condemn you either. Go, but do not sin again” (John 8 v 11 Good News Translation.)  He acknowledges the sin, forgives before she asks for it and when she could not possibly expect it given her culture and background, and offers her a way back.  He offers the woman at the well the Living Water that she so desperately craves, revitalising and replenishing her, which allows her to embark on the evangelisation of her community.  And to Peter he gives the greatest task: “Take care of my sheep.” (John 21 v 17, same translation.)  Peter, rather than being condemned and flattened by Jesus, is given a way back to abundant life and fruitful ministry.

And if Jesus, earthly embodiment of God, who is the only one who should be truly offended by our sins (since he is perfect whereas we are not) can judge but offer forgiveness, why can’t we?  Yes, we can form judgements but in our response and our words, we should offer God’s forgiveness and love first and foremost.  Believe me, depending on what the issue is, the people to whom we are speaking may have judged themselves time and time again already – they do not need to hear it again. It is up to the Holy Spirit to convict and change a person, not up to us. And we do not truly understand what has led a person to a particular point, a particular choice, unless we have been there ourselves.  God does – because he made them.

So by all means judge – but in your response: love, point to God, try to understand and love, love and love again.


About francesgabriel75

Just thinking out loud about faith, children and church. Born in Dorset but now living too far away from the sea, which still calls to me, occasionally. Make my living in the world of education.
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20 Responses to Judgement and walking in another’s shoes

  1. Very good!!!! I like this….. I may re-blog this in the near future, if that is OK with you???

    Take Care and God Bless 🙂 Kenny T

  2. Please do if you would like to. Thank you. Something that is very much on my heart so I’m glad if it reaches someone else too.

  3. I like how you pointed to Jesus as the ultimate example to follow when we become aware of mistakes others have made. May we treat our own selves with such loving grace too.

    Blessings ~ Wendy

    • This blog came about as a response to my feeling judged by someone else but it made me reflect on how I then treat others too. This is a theme that has recurred time and time again over the last 18 years or so, but only just put fingers to keyboard (rather than pen to paper!) Feel blessed that someone else understands what I am saying!

  4. This is great! God has been teaching me this exactly! You’ve done an outstanding job of articulating this very tricky concept of acknowledging sin while still loving the person. 🙂

  5. Moon Gal says:

    This is a great topic because I have struggled and struggled with this issue. Lets face it, its hard to turn off your mind. It is difficult to change how your brain perceives certain information. I stay faithful, always considering if any behavior or any thoughts are religiously illegal (I am goofy). Its sooooo difficult not to judge. I think it is just a human instinct. Just today I was at the gym and my judgmental self spotted a girl who wore a leotard-thong to the gym. you know, like the ones they used to wear back in the day with the tights. Well, lets just say that the thong was swallowed by her back end (still judging). I spontaneously thought, “wth? she know she wrong for that” Okay, so of course this line of thinking is forbidden, but its like my mind is not my own. I just laugh at myself and move on because I really do try to live by the word, but sometimes I just can’t help thinking certain things. What would you recommend?

    PS. I really enjoy reading your blog.

    • Thank you for your comment. I’m glad this blog has hit the spot with some people. I do think it is human (and as such can fail to meet God’s standards at times!) I think what you are doing – checking thoughts, certainly actions before they are ‘out there’ or expressed, and repenting of those that are wrong, is the only thing you or any of us can do. I had to apologise to someone the other day for my attitude towards them (I was uncomfortable with a situation and unconsciously judging them when that’s God’s job.) They didn’t know, I hadn’t expressed it – but I felt God telling me I had to do it nonetheless. They appreciated it and it has changed our relationship.

  6. need to read this at least about every other day, not because I am so great, but because I desperately want to be. The Jesus example helps me, too. Thanks!

  7. By the same Spirit, He speaks to us. God Bless!

  8. coffeediva says:

    I love your point where you talk about the fact that we have no idea what a person has been through to make them the way they are and we need to remember to have compassion instead of pass judgment on them. Sometimes easier said than done but it’s something we need to constantly be aware of and work on within ourselves.

  9. ddclaywriter says:

    Thanks for your thoughts. Sometimes we need to smell the milk I guess.
    Paul the Apostle knew he was being judged by others all the time, but he said he knew that God would handle that in the end. He said he didn’t even judge himself.
    It is in our nature to do so…so we need to check ourselves often.

    Love, love and love again. that’s a good way to handle it.

  10. Pingback: “Judge Not” — Those Fearsome Words | Christine's Collection

  11. lmw says:

    Reblogged this on Burning Brightly and commented:
    This is a topic I have been thinking a lot about recently…and one that a new blogging connection seemed to articulate so well. Love moves people. Love changes people. Jesus came to love and save us all. Why do we spend so much time judging?

  12. Pingback: Jesus’ crown, not ours to wear | Walking the talk

  13. Pingback: Forgive us our sins … as we forgive others | Walking the talk

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