What does the word judge actually mean? To judge is to draw a conclusion, to deduce, surmise, speculate, or assume. Judging requires the judger to have indisputable facts and evidence. Without substantiated facts or proof to support an opinion, that opinion is generally faulty, without merit, and is merely an assumption.
In thinking about how people make judgments, I was reminded of the many false and unmerited accusations and judgments that were made against the Lord by the Pharisees, Sadducees, His generation, and even the townspeople who knew Jesus His entire life. The first 30 years, He had led a very unpretentious and normal life in Nazareth. He was known to everyone as a carpenter and the son of Joseph. So when He returned to teach in the same synagogue that He had attended as a boy and then as an adult, the townspeople asked, “Is this not Joseph’s son?” In other words, “Who does he think he is? He’s just a simple carpenter who is Joseph’s son.” Their prejudices and judgments soon turned to anger when He made a declaration after reading from the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoner and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on Him as He stated, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:18-19).
The people’s hard hearts had blinded them to the truth, so they couldn’t accept that Jesus was the fulfillment of scripture. They couldn’t see beyond the boy who had grown up in their village. Their preconceived judgments not only prevented them from embracing Jesus, they attempted to throw Him off a cliff (Luke 4:16-30).
It is not possible to really know a person’s capabilities, purpose, and destiny that God has written on the pages of their life. For that reason, we should never make misguided assumptions and judgments from outward appearances, gossip, speculation, and rumors. Only God can see the deepest part of a person’s heart and their intentions. Conversely, our perceptions are skewed when looking through a cloudy lens of judgment, as exampled in the following story.
A piano sat on the sidewalk of an outdoor cafe, when a homeless man—dressed in dirty clothing that hung loosely on his emaciated frame, sat down to play. Judging smirks quickly turned to jaw-dropping awe as they watched the man’s fingers dance effortlessly across the keys.
We later learned that this homeless man was a former Marine, whose precious gift of music had been derailed due to the death of his wife and the loss of his son. Depressed and without hope, he tried to escape his unbearable pain and loss through drugs. Before he sat at that piano, all we saw was a dirty beggar, but when those melodic notes filled the air, we suddenly saw him as an accomplished musician with great talent and worth.
Why are we so quick to judge from outward appearances? We view the world through our own values. If others don’t live up to those values, we judge, criticize, and make false assumptions. Surprisingly, we often judge others in areas where we are the weakest. However, no matter a person’s appearance, education or lack thereof, their social standing, politics, financial worth, attire, or religious beliefs, God made every person uniquely special with great value and worth.
God’s Word warns us not to judge others, because by the measure we judge, we will be judged. (In other words, we reap what we sow.) “So why do we look at the speck in our brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in our own eye? How can we say to our brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and not see the plank in our own eye?” Jesus called us hypocrites and said we must first remove the board from our own eye before we think about removing the speck from our brother’s eye (Matthew 7:1-5).
Before we were born, God placed within every person individual gifts, talents, and a destiny filled with great purpose. Unfortunately, the enemy constantly attempts to abort our destiny, for he is the thief who comes only to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10). That is why it is vitally important that we not only have a relationship with Jesus Christ, but that we daily abide in Him. (See the October 30, 2017 posting, ABIDE IN ME at http://say-it-with-joy2014.blogspot.com)
God said, “…I know the plans I have for you…they are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT). Some will follow the Lord to their destiny, while others will choose a different path. And some destinies are derailed due to unavoidable circumstances. Those who have either lost their way or have never had a relationship with God, can find their way to Him, when God’s people do their part. For it is the responsibility of every Christian to pray for others, to show mercy, love, and if possible, to offer the hope of Christ as we extend a helping hand to the disenfranchised, the hopeless, the hurting, and the lost.
Lord, forgive me for judging others, because all people are loved by You. Give me a heart of compassion, so that I may see people through Your eyes. I ask that You develop mercy, grace, and love within my heart for those whom I would be tempted to judge. In Jesus name, amen.