How To Not Judge Others

Posted on February 3, 2011


It’s ubiquitous. Everybody does it to everybody else. And everyone is so good at it. But don’t do it to me. You don’t even know me.

No one likes to be judged by others. Here you are, struggling through a difficult situation, and someone comes along, get’s less than a fraction of the story, and passes judgment on all the shortcomings of your competence and character. It’s irritating, especially when you’re just trying to do your level best.

If only there was a way to keep people from doing that, from passing judgment on us. So I found this verse. Matthew 7:1. It may be a way to actually make this happen.

“Do not judge, that you be not judged.”

Judged by whom? I’ve always read this verse as “Do not judge, that you be not judged BY GOD.” But after a closer reading, the verse doesn’t really say that. So who is (or rather who is not) doing the judging here?

At the end of this section of verses, in verse 12, Jesus wraps up these verses with the famous golden rule: “Therefore, all that you wish men would do to you, so also you do to them.” So actually, this section is not talking about God’s judgment at all. Its not “you be not judged BY GOD,” its “you be not judged BY OTHERS.”

But I mean, c’mon. Is this really true? If I don’t judge someone else, they will probably still judge me up one side and down the other. In addition, how are we supposed to stop doing something that we so unconsciously and constantly do? Have you ever TRIED not to judge people? Its more than just saying, “Do whatever you want. I don’t care as long as it floats your boat.” That’s judging them as worth less than our concern.

My point is that to stop judging others seems to be an impossible task if you really try to work at it. And even if you did, would that stop people from judging you, really?

So as I was considering this, I listened to this podcast of the Life-Study of the Bible with Witness Lee on Matthew 7:1-12 and I was struck with this.

“How we view others is a clear indication about how we know ourselves. …By judging others, by pointing out others’ faults, we show that we don’t see our own faults. We think we know where others are and how they stand. But we really don’t know how they stand because we don’t know our own condition.”

We judge others because we don’t know our own condition. That’s really the heart of the problem here. Our knowledge of our own shortcomings is inadequate. This shows how much we need Christ. Christ needs to come in, illuminate us, and give us a vision of who we really are. Without this, we can never know our real condition.

So back to the verse, “Do not judge, that you be not judged.” Here’s how that works, according to my understanding. The more Christ gives us a vision of who we really are, the more merciful we become to others. We see that our own faults are much bigger than their faults.

As we are more merciful to them, we stop judging them and begin to consider them, sympathize with them, and be merciful toward them. We begin to care for them.

Then you will discover this fact, which Witness Lee gives in the Life-Study of Matthew, message 23:

“If you take care of others, you will not be judged by them.”

Viola! “Do not judge, that you be not judged [by others].” This starts by asking the Lord to have mercy on us and show us who we really are.