JUDGING OTHERS: JUST DON’T DO IT

By DANNY MINTON

We sit behind the mask of our computer screens, open up Facebook and criticize all genres of people, past or present for what they said or did. Politicians, sports figures, movie stars, and I have even seen spouses criticize each other. We find it easy to point out people’s faults from the privacy of our personal computer. It becomes a one-sided conversation where we can say what we want without their interference. In some cases, we have no idea why, nor do we have all the facts we just don’t like them “because!” Because why my mother would ask? My response would be a strong “Just Because!”

Someone makes an insensitive remark, uncalled for of course, and the public demands that they be fired. After all, how could anyone comment such as that and still be in their position? Yet, haven’t we all said something insensitive in our lives, probably more than once? In fact, there may not be a week that goes by that we don’t say something we should not have said! Should we be fired? Should we face public ridicule every time we speak or even think inappropriately?

Judging other’s looks, actions, words, past, and present has become a favorite pastime of people in today’s technology world. We can judge, comment, and ridicule from the privacy of our home. We can look at others and never have to look back at how we are living our own lives.  In a way we make ourselves feel better by pointing out other’s faults, making ours seem so much more insignificant. After all, I’m better than they are, right?

I came across a warning dating back to the pre-WW1 era. It was about travel.

English: NOTICE!
“TRAVELLERS intending to embark on the Atlantic voyage are reminded that a state of war exists between Germany and her allies and Great Britain and her allies; that the zone of war includes the waters adjacent to the British Isles; that in accordance with formal notice given by the Imperial German Government, vessels flying the flag of Great Britain, or of any of her allies, are liable to destruction in those waters and that travellers sailing in the war zone on ships of Great Britain or her allies do so at their own risk.”

IMPERIAL GERMAN EMBASSY

Washington, D. C. April 22, 1915

The warning was straightforward to the public, yet people ignored it and continued to travel by ship. Close to 1,200 people would die when the Germans sank the Lusitania two weeks later, signaling a chain reaction that would later bring the United States into war. The warning was there, yet people ignored it.

In the same way, Jesus has given us warnings, not about sinking ships but about judging others. However, in the same way, those travelers aboard the Lusitania ignored the German warning, so many of us ignore the warning by Jesus about judging others so harshly.

The warning is given over and over in many different ways. A woman who committed adultery is brought before Jesus by a crowd believing she should be stoned. Jesus’ response was for the one who had never sinned to be the first to stone her. Another time he asked why people were so concerned with the minor issues or “speck” of others while they suffered from greater faults or “plank” of their own.

The most direct warning, however, is given in Matthew right before the “plank” statement. It simply says, “ 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.” Jesus tells us over and over to look at ourselves, see our faults and be careful how we judge those around us. In most cases, we only know part of what’s going on, maybe what the media tells us or someone who is just quoting someone else who quoted someone else. We judge the actions of those whose shoes we have never worn. Former pro-golfer, Payne Stewart, in one of his travels with a fellow golfer overheard him criticize another golfer for his temper and antics on the course. Stewart made the comment that “if you had grown up with the past he had, you might be the same.”

I read the story once of a man and his wife who when they went to parties in the neighborhood, would always make his wife stay by his side. She couldn’t go off and visit with others unless he was right there with her. People viewed him as an abusive dominating husband. When the couple moved away, they became the conversation of the parties and how domineering he was over her. Then one person spoke up telling the others the reason she had to stay with him was because his wife was a Kleptomaniac and this protected both her and their hosts.

Next time before you pass judgment on someone for what they said or did take time to walk into your bedroom and look in the mirror. Look at the person staring back at you from within the haunted space before you. Remember all the times that you have failed and all the times that you were wrong. Remember the times you said something you shouldn’t have or the times you did something you regretted later. As the saying goes, “Nobody is perfect!” That includes each of us.

In the movie Pollyanna, there is a scene where the minister reads an inscription found on her necklace. It simply states, “If you look for the bad in people, expecting to find it, you surely will.” For every bad thing, we see in people there are probably a dozen good things we ignore. Wouldn’t it be great if people spent more time building up than tearing down? Jesus, our example, spent time looking for the good in all people. His harshest judgments came on those who were so eager to judge everyone else.

_________________________

There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

James 4:12

Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ

“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, … But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15

Danny

“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, … But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15

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