Mt.7:1-5 – 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.  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? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Judgment is a cognitive process in drawing conclusions, which can be both beneficial and harmful. The type of judgment addressed in this devotional is the hurtful judgment aimed specifically towards others. Judgment determines someone’s worth or value. It can build or tear down, encourage or discourage the person targeted. All of us have experienced judgment at some point in time and we know the sting felt when directed at us.

When teaching a Recovery Addiction class one day, I was having a deep and meaningful conversation with my students. I asked the question. “What is the most difficult thing you deal with in pursuing recovery?”  Each of the students responded with an answer that was nearly identical. To summarize, they replied, “Not being accepted and the judgment we feel from others.” We spent that entire class unwrapping their statements and processing their beliefs and feelings. It was interesting that the very thing that they despised they were embracing. They felt judged, and they also harbored judgment towards others.

There was a great deal of pain expressed that day.  I listened carefully as each of them were doing their very best to step out of the place of addictions and to experience transformation in life and health. They highlighted the fact that many people’s remarks were so very hurtful which made it even more challenging to keep stepping up towards recovery.  They noted that the persons uttering the hope-robbing remarks had no idea how hard the struggle was to even get to the place they were presently at.  The most hurtful remarks noted were from well-intentioned family members and friends. People they have loved and still loved, but the relationship had been damaged by events and conflicts that had taken place.

As I listened to them express their feelings, I remember being very saddened by the detailed stories told. These individuals were not making excuses or deflecting responsibility for their actions. They were just trying to figure out how to survive, let alone overcome their life dominating addictions. I reflected on my own judgments of others over the years. I am embarrassed to admit how many times I have allowed unhealthy and devaluing thoughts, words spoken and the actions accompanying those words. I wondered how many people I may have hampered or detoured from gaining victory in their life.

Yes, these students had made poor choices which put them in the predicament they were in. As it has been said, “You can choose your sin, but you cannot choose the consequences.” My friends paid, and were still paying for, the consequences of their actions. Some of the consequences harmed people they loved very much. Now, they could not rewind the scenarios that inflicted the pain on their loved ones and make everything better.

We have all made poor choices that led to more poor choices. We have all suffered the consequences of those choices. How easy it is to pass judgment on someone else’s thinking, choices and shortcomings and at the same time generously extend grace or undeserved favor to us. I heard a quote many years ago, “We judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intent.” I think it is very true!

The Book of Romans, chapters 14 & 15, address the issue of judging others. Please take the time to read those chapters and then ask yourself, Does this apply to me? I found it quite convicting. I think you will too.

In the Gospel of Luke 15:1-32, Jesus told three parables. The Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Lost Son. Please read these impacting stories on your own.

The Setting: Jesus was hanging out with the hated Tax Collectors and Sinners. The Pharisees and teachers of the law were judging his actions. The word Pharisee means “one who is separated.” It is thought that the separation was from Gentiles who represented ritual impurity or from irreligious Jews. “Pharisees were members of a party that believed in resurrection and in following traditions that were ascribed not to the Bible but to “traditions of their fathers.” Like the scribes, they were also well-known legal experts.” In essence, they were known to be judges of people’s outward actions. On this occasion they were present to judge what Jesus was teaching. Jesus took advantage of this judging opportunity and taught using parables to bring the obvious into a righteous perspective.

I would like to note my observations in reading this chapter.  
Something/someone valuable was lost. People are the only thing that really matters this side of heaven. For the Christ follower, “People are our business and our only business.”
Who or what was lost was intentionally pursued with the purpose of recovery. There was no rest until recovery took place. Recovery is not complete until true restoration has taken place.
When recovery took place, there was shared joy and celebration. It was Good News! There was no judgment or evaluating, just celebration.

What should we do with unhealthy judgment?

1 Cor.13:4 – Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Judging others steals hope, joy, life, faith, and vision. Loving others provides encouragement, (helping people find courage), it affirms, and it does not highlight or keep rehearsing others failures. It speaks well of and blesses, versus judging, cursing, or condemning others.

Instead of judging, ask the Lord to show you any unhealthy attitudes you may be holding on to. Judging is a choice. If there is any unforgiveness, forgive as God has forgiven you!  Let go of the offense and cancel the debt owed. Pray for those who have wounded you instead of cursing. Reflect on the enormous amount of grace, mercy and love that God extends to you every single day. You are worthy to be forgiven of your sins and so are others.  The law has no ability to forgive but you can. The law can only judge, it cannot provide hope for life transformation, but you can. There is a Judge, and you are not he! That’s good news!

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