Conflict is hard for everyone, but Christians have the help of the Bible to guide them. Unfortunately, sometimes we neglect to seek the Word before acting out based on our emotions. For example, the Bible clearly tells Christians to “judge not,” but Christians are often the most judgmental of all. Jesus discussed judging others 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.”
Why is this the case? And, how do we overcome the temptation to judge our brothers and sisters? That’s what we will examine today.
Do Not Allow Emotion to Drive You
If we are honest, most of the time our reactions are completely dictated by our emotions. If we are angry or hurt, we act out of these emotions instead of seeking the Holy Spirit. While this is a natural response, it is not the correct response. Jesus lived radically. He lived a sinless life of love and humility.
As humans, we are sinful, and we will be tempted. But, as Christians, we are called to follow Jesus. One of the main ways we are tempted to sin is by giving in to our emotions. For example, if we are bitter or jealous, it is easy to find fault in others and to judge them without recognizing our own sins. Therefore, if your anger causes you to judge someone before examining your heart, you have missed the mark.
Be Quick to Listen
Instead of being reactionary, we should be quick to listen. James 1:19 says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” Judgment comes from many places – anger, fear, or assumptions. However, if we pause and listen to the person before speaking, we are less likely to react out of anger. This heavenly pause is necessary for the speaker and the listener. For instance, we may have made false assumptions.
Furthermore, before you speak, you should consider your purpose. Are you speaking out of anger or for the person’s benefit? Ephesians 4:29 reminds us, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Repent of Your Sin
Additionally, it is critical that we examine our hearts daily. A judgmental spirit is evident of a heart problem for believers. Therefore, if you have become more concerned with identifying the planks in your brother’s eye, but not in your own, you need to get to the real heart of the issue. As 1 John 1:8 states, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Spend time in prayer asking for forgiveness and repenting of your sins. Thankfully, you have a Savior who is willing and able to forgive you.
Pray for Wisdom and Discernment
Sometimes you may fall into judgment without even realizing what you are doing until it is too late. For instance, you may not even realize you have a problem with someone until you start judging them. Again, this is why it is important to examine your heart regularly. As Christians, we are told we can pray and ask for wisdom, and it will be given to us (James 1:5). This is important when it comes to dealing with conflict of any sort. We need wisdom to be aware of our struggles, as well as how to handle issues with others. Also, judgment is not the same as having discernment. Ask God to help you discern truth from untruth rather than forming your own judgments.
Read God’s Word
Do not fall into the trap of believing you are better than anyone else or letting pride take over. This is another way that judgment begins. By staying in the Word and prayer, you will be more attuned to God’s desires for his people. Instead of allowing yourself to form your own judgments and acting as the judge and jury amongst your peers, you should hold everything up to the Word of God. Use the Bible as your standard for living – and for loving others. For instance, instead of judging someone, ask yourself how Jesus reacted to similar situations in the Bible?
Finally, we cannot expect others to take us seriously when we are hypocritical. Jesus even says so! Therefore, it is important to not only examine your own heart but also to allow others to hold you accountable. We will all fall short, but the beauty of having brothers and sisters in Christ is that they can hold you accountable without judging you.
When you judge someone, you do not extend mercy or grace. You cast the first stone. Don’t allow yourself to believe you are sinless or without struggles. Instead, speak the truth in love to a friend (when it is needed) with the ultimate goal of restoration, and allow others to do the same for you.
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.” Galatians 6:1-5