The Destructive Nature of a Judgmental Spirit

Monday, June 9, 2014

don't judge
"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." Matthew 7:1-2

Jesus gives us a very clear directive to not judge others. He doesn't encourage us to avoid judging. He flat out says, "Do not judge." He lays out for us in Matthew 7 the reality of the destructive nature of a judgmental spirit. Judging others is not merely an action. It quickly becomes a character trait that will consume our heart and dominate every aspect of our daily life. Therefore, we must take great care to avoid judging others.

According to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, the original Greek meaning of the word judge is to condemn; to pronounce an opinion concerning right or wrong. Tied to this is the concept of making a diagnosis with the intent of dispensing a cure, much like a doctor. When we begin to play doctor with people's lives we can do serious harm because we don't know what we are doing and we simply do not have the authority to do so. God alone has the authority to judge and we do well to leave that up to him. He alone is Judge and he alone is the Great Physician. He doesn't need our help.

There are three areas in life that a judgmental spirit causes damage. The first is our heart. When we judge, we are literally exalting ourselves to where God is and lowering him to where we are. The act of overvaluing ourselves and devaluing God creates serious changes in our heart by hardening it and desensitizing it to the Holy Spirit. I am reminded of the saying "fools rush in where angels fear to tread." 

Second, a judgmental spirit damages our eyesight. It leads to what I call inverted or reversed vision. Jesus illustrates this in two ways. The first is in verse 3 where he says, "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?" A judgmental spirit causes us to see things in other people that aren't there while at the same time becoming blind to things that are there in ourselves. We look at others through a microscope but look at ourselves with blinders on. Jesus further illustrates this in verse 6 when he says, "do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs." The point I believe Jesus is making is that a judgmental spirit is proof that our vision is inverted. In other words, I begin to see my thinking as a priceless jewel and see the other person as nothing more than a sloppy pig that isn't even worthy of my "pearls of wisdom." Ouch! On a spiritual level, when we judge someone, we are literally reducing them in our eyes to worthless swine. Once we start seeing the world through the eyes of a judgmental spirit we lose our ability to distinguish between the truth and a lie. This is why a judgmental spirit is so dangerous. We must strive to view life through the eyes of Jesus.

Finally, a judgmental spirit damages our relationships. The last half of verse 6 says, "they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces." A judgmental spirit wounds others and leaves them no choice but to defend themselves. When you slap someone, are you surprised when they turn around and punch you in the nose? Is it any wonder that our churches are so full of division and void of unity when God's people are so busy judging one another? This is why the world wants nothing to do with the Church. They see us as one big dysfunctional family. So, not only does a judgmental spirit damage relationships within the Church, it causes serious damage by sabotaging the prospect of those outside the Church ever coming into relationship with Jesus. Ouch again!

How do you know if you have a judgmental spirit? If you find that people around you tend to judge you and you feel people don't accept you for who you are, that is an indication that you have a judgmental spirit. That's why Jesus says, "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged." Second, if you are more worried about how other people are behaving than how you are behaving, you have a judgmental spirit. If there seems to be a lack of grace shown to you by other people, perhaps it is because you are not showing grace to them and you are simply reaping the result of what you are sowing into them. The old adage is true - "What goes around, comes around." Jesus' final statement in this passage sums it up in what we have come to know as The Golden Rule - "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you." If you want to be shown grace, if you want people to accept you and not judge you, then all you have to do is do likewise and it will come back to you.
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