The Cleansing Nature of Being Free of Judgment

Who hasn’t felt the sting of being judged? It seems a universal problem — a sociological anathema that crosses continent and culture. God says that where two or more are gathered, he will be there. But it seems that when you add a third person, judgment soon follows. Jesus knew what it felt like. He gave us a way to detox from the poison of judgment and avoid the judging trap.

Girl reflecting on a train


James saw judgment killing the spirit in his church and issued a scorching soliloquy against the tongue — “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell” (Jms. 3:6).

Jesus agreed.


Jesus on Judging

Where does it come from? This strong internal drive to judge others.

Jesus said, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged” (Lk. 6:37a).


There are a handful of Jesus’ teachings that are found in all four gospels and the writings of Paul – this is one of them. Obviously, this was a big one for Jesus. But why? I think it went way back for Jesus – to his childhood, growing up in Nazareth. The feeling of being judged ran deep for him.

Jesus grew up in a small village in Southern Galilee. His father was a tekton, a craftsman. As such, Jesus and his family would have been part of the great majority labeled the Am Haretz,  the people of the land. It was mostly a derogatory term used to shame those who were not as learned nor as fastidious in the observance of the Mosaic Law. It was a label used to shame those who were too poor to pay both the Roman taxes and the required tithe to the temple at Jerusalem.

Jesus understood well what it felt like to be judged.

Jesus states the principle – “Be merciful as your Father is merciful” (Lk. 6:36). Mercy was a judicial term in Jesus’ day. In a corrupt system where the authority figure had complete power over a person –justice was not the value – it was power. So, to be acquitted in such a system was not so much a matter of justice as it was mercy – it was the mercy of the judge.

So, how do you show mercy?


Three Reasons You Refuse to Judge

I. You Refuse to Judge — For your own sake.

Jesus says – the way you judge, you will be judged, and the way you condemn others, you will be condemned, and the measure (of punishment) you put on someone else, with the same measure you will be punished.

So, the first reason Jesus gives is one of self-interest. You stop judging people because it is in your own best interest to NOT judge others.

When you judge others, you do not define them, you define yourself. -- Earl Nightingale

FOUR Hidden Reasons We Judge Others

1. We are insecure.

Judging others make me feel better about myself.

2. We are scared.

Judging others can be used as a preemptive strike.

3. We are lonely.

Judging others is often used to triangulate with another person against a third, creating a false feeling of bonding.

4. We are basically unhealthy.

Some people are unhappy and secretly want others to be as unhappy as they are. Healthy people don’t feel the need to judge others – their first impulse is to help. Judging puts space between you and the other person. Refusing to judge immediately connects you to that person – it fuels compassion.

II. You Refuse to Judge — For the sake of others.

Jesus recognized (and I think understood from first-hand experience) that judging deeply wounds the person being judged. He says, “Can the blind lead the blind?”

It's not what you look at that matters. It's what you see. -- Henry David Thoreau

FOUR ways Judging Hurts People

1. It hurts other people.

2. It polarizes community

3. It perpetuates ugly stereotypes

4. It makes you feel worse about yourself.

III. You Refuse to Judge — For the sake of God’s Kingdom work.

Jesus recognized the inherent hypocrisy in judging and its greatest casualty – spiritual death. He said, “

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?” (Mt. 7:3).

Jesus’ accusation against the Pharisees in Matthew 15 is instructive.

Judging is destructive of God’s Kingdom work because …

  • It distracts from the main thing.

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness.You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.” — Mt.15:23-24

  • It blocks the way to God’s saving grace.

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” — Mt. 15:14

  • It’s contagious.

You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.” — Mt. 15:15

THREE ways to know you are judging someone

1. You are talking more about the person than you are to the person.

2. You are feeling anxious/uncomfortable when you are around the person.

3. You find yourself focusing only on the person’s shortcomings.

SIX Ways To Stop Judging

1. Monitor your thoughts.

2. Look for the positive.

3. Avoid stereotyping.

4. Stop judging yourself.

5. Focus on your own life.

6. Remember how it feels.




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