One of the natural tendencies we all have is to magnify, and sometimes exaggerate, the sins, weaknesses and failures of others while either ignoring or minimizing our own. The Bible calls this tendency “judgment.” It indicates a self-righteous spirit. At its root is a major spiritual problem — pride.
Most often our negative judgments of others are cloaked in “righteous justifications.” We convince ourselves that we have an obligation to change someone or some situation. We take on a role as “God’s policeman;” God’s “law enforcement officer.” And while proclaiming humility about ourselves, we’re actually infected with a subtle spirit of pride. Unbeknownst to ourselves, we have set ourselves up as God’s judge of others — which is a role He never assigns to us. This was the very thing Jesus condemned so forcefully and frequently with the Pharisees during His earthly ministry. He still condemns it today!
Judging other people is a horrible way to live. It damages them and it destroys us. It’s a poison inside our hearts. It leaves us dead and dry on the inside. When we judge others, we enter into spiritual darkness. As soon as we give place to a judgmental spirit, whether we realize it or not, we shut ourselves off from the freshness of God’s life and power. A judgmental spirit leaves us spiritually barren, emotionally frustrated and mentally confused. It sets us up for God’s judgment in our own lives. It’s something we need to carefully and diligently avoid.
Note what Jesus said:
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own.” — Matthew 7:1-3 (NLT)
The Message paraphrase makes Jesus’ words very clear:
“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. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own.” — Matthew 7:1-3 (Message)
How do you know if you have a judgmental spirit? Inventory your thoughts about others and listen to what you say about others. Our thoughts and words reveal the real contents of our hearts.
The only cure to a judgmental spirit is to see it for what it is — sin — and to truly repent of it. The remedy is to let go of our need to police and judge others, and to choose to love them instead!