Don’t Be Critical; Do Forgive

“Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37 NKJV).

by Rhonda Holland
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everal years ago, a woman came to me after a church service broken and weeping, and asked if I would pray for her. She said she was so weary of fighting the emotional battles she was continually in and felt like no one could help her.

This woman told me she was always trying to live the best she could for the Lord, yet things seemed to continually go wrong. She stated that she “watched” church people, and many were doing ungodly things. She said she was living by a much higher standard, and she did not understand why they seemed to have peace while she did not.

She continued, saying she had also seen others who lived much “better” than she did and maybe she just wasn’t good enough to receive the blessings of God! “Everybody is happier than I am!” she declared.

We talked for a good while, and my heart was broken for her. This woman was hurt- ing and needing help. When we prayed together, the Spirit of the Lord began to minister to her. In that atmosphere of God’s sweet presence, revelation was given to her. She had been living in a judgmental mindset, thereby opening her heart to be condemning of others and herself. It resulted in her heart being pulled forcefully back and forth between self-righteousness and condemnation. She was miserable because of it.

One day she would be walking in a self-righteous, holier-than-thou attitude, and the next day she was in condemnation, feeling it would be a miracle if she made it to heaven! It was all because she was not heeding the warnings Christ gave in Luke 6:37. She forgave others and herself that night, and was set free!

    Dangerous Practice

When we attempt to judge others, we base our standards of righteousness on how they live. This is so dangerous and contrary to the Word of God. We will always find someone who seems to be doing more for God than we are…and we can always find someone who seems to be living in willful sin. So we swing back and forth from condemnation to self-righteousness.

A self-righteous person never influences the lost. A person walking in condemnation and fear of failure rarely has a large following. And forgiveness is never extended from the judgmental person.

The word judge in this verse means “to decide (mentally or judicially); by implication, to try, condemn, and/or punish for one’s crime or sin.” We are never to take that role of authority in another’s life. When we do, we become miserable with life, and so does everyone around us.

Then there are those who misuse Christ’s words to justify not receiving counsel for correcting a sinful lifestyle. They accuse the one attempting to minister to them as “being judgmental.” Often those who have tried to offer biblical truths to someone in sin have been made to feel as if they have done something wrong and have heard statements like “Who are you to judge me? Jesus said, ‘Judge not!’” In this politically correct world we live in, this is the mantra of those who justify living by their own standards.

While Jesus is warning us in Luke 6:37 to be careful not to fall into a judgmental mind-set, He is not telling an errant believer that he or she should never receive counsel or instruction from another believer. Critically passing judgment on someone is not the same as offering counsel based on biblical guidelines.

    Divine Guide

The Word of God is not given so we can judge another’s faults, failures, or sin and then pass judgment accordingly. Instead, the Word is our guide to live according to God’s standards and help disciple others to walk in the freedom available in Christ.

In Ephesians 4:11-16, we read how Christ gives spiritual gifts to the church “for the equipping of the saints” (NKJV) so we all come to a greater faith in Christ and not be “blown here and there by every wind of teaching” that blows across our land (NIV). We are to present the truth “in love,” never in judgment, but always to benefit the hearer.

As Jesus stated in Luke 6:37, we must guard our hearts so we do not become judgmental. Many snares await us if we make that misstep.

And we must always remember to be willing to receive godly counsel, never mistaking it as someone passing “judgment.”