Do not judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourselves. For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you deal out to others it will be dealt out again to you.
A friend, on reading this meditation, made a comment that motivated me to slip in here and add a preface. I do not wish to imply that we are never to judge others at all; that stand would be unscriptural as the Bible clearly commands us to know those that labor among us, to judge them by their fruit, and I Cor 5:12-13 shows clearly that we are not to ignore it when church members sin.
With that clearly understood…
Many people read Matthew 7:1-2 and instantly set the verses aside, thinking, “I don’t judge people, so this doesn’t apply to me,” but is this true? I think not, for most of us. If, as I drive the freeway, another driver cuts me off and I respond by calling him a fool, I have judged him. I have also, by speaking the judgment aloud, criticized. This Scripture clearly warns me against both.
Why? Why does God warn us not to do these things? I believe it is at least in part because of the laws that say, “…whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Gal 6:7, NKJV) and “Give and it will be given to you…” (Luke 6:38, NKJV) Yes, “give and it will be given” applies to good gifts, but I believe it also applies to this.
And, too, the King James puts it simply; “Judge not lest thou be judged.” If I am judgmental where others are concerned, I am essentially begging God to be judgmental towards me. Also, I have seen from experience that he who judges often ends up committing the very same error himself. Yes, logic would say that if we see another’s actions as wrong we will not perform the same actions ourselves, but many parents will admit that they too often find themselves doing the very things they most hated for their parents to do. I believe there is a reason for this. As I see it, when I judge another and do not repent of having judged them I open a door that can lead me into doing the very same thing for which I have passed judgment. I believe this not only as a result of reading Scripture, but because I have seen it happen time and again.
I know a man who saw other male friends, Christian men, go through midlife crises and completely lose it. I’m sure he prayed for these men, but he also judged them harshly and criticized them, declaring that there was no excuse for a Christian to go through a midlife crises at all. It wasn’t too very many years before this man was deep in his own midlife crisis and, though he came out of it with his marriage and family intact, it was only by the grace of God that he did. Meanwhile, another friend was judging him harshly, as he had judged the others. In a few short years, this other man was in position to be judged for much the same thing.
I can also give an example of my own. I had a Christian friend who’d had multiple nervous breakdowns. I could not understand how a Christian could have a nervous breakdown and found myself judging her as apparently lacking in some area. Mind you, I never spoke my thoughts – never criticized; I loved her far too much for that anyway and felt badly that I had these judgmental thoughts…not that it occurred to me to repent of them.
Then I had a nervous breakdown.
I have since been able to analyze that time period and could list the things that led me into this horrible experience. It is possible that it would have happened anyway, even if I had not judged this other friend, but I’m sure that through judging her I did open the door that led to me going down the same – or at least a similar – path. God was good to me; He surrounded me with people who loved me, prayed even when they didn’t understand what was wrong, and did everything they could think of to help me down the road to recovery. I would much rather, however, have avoided that terrifying experience entirely.
I am very glad that I have a good God who occasionally reminds me, “Tammy, judge not lest thou be judged, for with the same measure…”