It’s easy to pass judgment on people and situations, and we have all done it. We judge others based on a variety of factors – appearance, actions, in-actions, the opinions of other people, etc. – and sometimes the conclusions we make are incorrect because we are looking at these factors out of context.

I’ve always been a very quiet, reserved person, and I’d call myself the epitome of an introvert. Despite that fact, I decided to audition for marching band drum major my senior year of high school. To my fellow band members and perhaps even the staff, it probably seemed quite an odd thing for me to do since a drum major needs to be rather loud and able to lead a large group of people. However, they were seeing me, and therefore judging me, based on my actions and appearances in only one context – that of a school setting. My family would’ve been able to tell them that I could be quite loud and somewhat bossy at times (just ask my sister!) So, when it was my turn to audition and I shouted out the first command, I sensed a few double-takes in the ranks and got a rather surprised look from the director as well. I can’t help but think that some people may have changed their opinion of me just a bit that day.

This is a very lighthearted example of a much larger and more serious issue discussed in Matthew 7:1. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” I certainly didn’t feel condemned by being judged as quiet and meek; perhaps just underestimated. But there are times when people really do feel condemned by the judgment of others, and that’s not the way God would want others to feel from those who claim to be following Him. John 3:17 tells us that “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” Rather than making snap judgments based solely on appearances or conjecture, we should instead look at others through God’s merciful point of view. For just a moment, consider how you would feel if you knew that someone was thinking about you the way you’re thinking about that person.

Another thing to keep in mind is your relationship with the other person. Are you merely an acquaintance? A friend of 20 years? Are you both Christians? Is one a non-believer? All of these factors should play a part in how you interact with someone. There’s probably more openness to discussion and correction with a long-time friend, especially if it’s done with love, and part of the context of the passage in Matthew is that correction is good and needed, but needs to be done the right way.

Consider this scenario – if you invite someone to play a game of racquetball with you and that person has never played before, would you judge him or her for breaking a rule of the game? I would hope not! Instead, you would kindly help to instruct them in the rules of the game so that they can learn how to play the best they can. In the same way, a non-Christian isn’t living their lives by the same guidelines you are, so should not be judged as if they are. Unfortunately, Christians are often stereotyped as judgmental. How great would it be if we were able to prove the stereotype wrong to those we meet by how we live our lives and interact with them?

I know for me, the next time I find myself starting to judge something or someone, I’ll take care to be more aware of the context of the situation and not rush to a conclusion. I hope and pray you will do the same!

Romans 2:1-3
Romans 14:1-13
James 4:11-12

How have I been judging others unfairly or out of context?
In what ways can I see others the way God sees them – with mercy?
Is there someone I need to start listening to for correction in my own life?

Lord God, thank you for sending your Son, Jesus, not to condemn the world but to save it. Help me to see others in that light and to show them mercy, just as I want your mercy to cover my life. But yet, I also want to remain open to the voices of godly people in my life who desire to help me live the best life for you that I can, so help me to be moldable and able to receive correction when needed. Most of all, help me to love others the way you have loved me. In Jesus’ name, amen.