Learning Not to Judge
by Tammy Darling
I

grew up in a very judgmental home, and judging others became part of my everyday life. No matter where I went, no matter who I saw, I could always find something about them to judge.

Because I had been judged in the form of criticism, comparison, and sarcasm so much as a child, I had a very low opinion of myself. I felt ugly, unlovable, and worthless. This only added fuel to my judging.

You’ve likely heard, if not experienced, that when a person is down on themselves, they’ll put others down in an attempt to make themselves feel better. This is true—I did it for years upon years.

When we put others down in any way, we are judging them. For example, if we mock a person’s looks, we are judging God’s creation. This lesson was hard for me to learn since such comments were the norm in my childhood home. But normal does not mean right.

I had to learn (and am still learning) that unless I see people as God sees them, I will always judge them. Because my judgment is flawed, my knowledge is limited, and my motives impure at times, my judgments will not be accurate.

It’s God’s viewpoint that puts things and people in the right perspective. I see dimly; God’s view is clear. If I look at others through my eyes, I view them through my past experiences and prejudices. However, if I see them through God’s eyes, I see the beauty God sees. I am not looking at the dirt; I’m seeing the diamond within.

One of my most horrific seasons of judging others came when I got serious about my relationship with God. I genuinely wanted to please the Lord, but in the process I began judging others’ prayers. Yes, their prayers. I cringe as I write this.

I would judge the duration, the word choice, and the passion (or lack thereof) behind the prayer. Instead of coming into agreement with what was being prayed, I would find fault. And it stunted my spiritual growth.

When the Holy Spirit convicted me of this, I repented; but I also became fearful of praying out loud myself—because you reap what you sow. To this day, I still am not at ease praying in front of others. It’s getting better, but there are consequences to our sin, and this is one area where I’m working out those consequences by the grace of God.

The more I understand that God doesn’t have prejudices and He doesn’t show favoritism, the more I am able to believe and receive what He says about me.

A more recent lesson on judging the Lord has been teaching me has to do with presumptions. If I presume to know what an individual did (or why they did it), I am judging him or her based on my own opinion. Often a person’s past will determine how I “presume” (judge) to know their present. What we sometimes think is wisdom and discernment is nothing more than presumption, which is ultimately a judgment against another person.

The more I understand that God doesn’t have prejudices and He doesn’t show favoritism, the more I am able to believe and receive what He says about me. The more I see myself as He sees me, the more I am able to see others as He sees them. And the more I embrace the grace of God, the more I am able to extend that grace to others.

The greatest lesson I’ve learned about judging others is that the closer I am to Christ, the less I judge others. Not judging other people becomes my new norm when I remain attached to the Vine (see John 15:1-17).

I have judged so many people unfairly. Yes, I have been judged a lot and from a very young age, but that doesn’t give me the right to judge others. I have forgiven those who judged me harshly and unfairly. And since I have, I am yielded to the will of the Master Teacher.

I’m so thankful that for all my judging, God hasn’t given up on me. His mercies are new every morning; each day we begin our lessons with a clean slate.

I now realize if I am judging others, I can’t possibly be loving them. And love is my highest goal. I spent far too many years judging; I want the rest of my years to be full of loving.

Tammy Darling lives in Three Springs, Pennsylvania.