Over the years through my own personal encounters with people in workplaces, neighborhoods, and online communities, the one complaint that I see the most often about Christians is that they are too judgmental. Many people claim that for this reason, they choose not to believe in God, not to become Christians, or not to go to church. As Christians, we have been commissioned by Christ to lead others to Him, not scare them off. (Mark 16:14-16) So, what can we do to learn to be less judgmental?
1. Consider you own faults instead of those of others.
“But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” (Romans 14:10)
Whenever you catch yourself judging someone for their appearance, words, or behavior, think about your own sins instead. We all sin. We all will have to stand before the judgment seat of Christ one day. We don’t want to have to answer to Him for being wrongfully judgmental of others or from hindering other people from coming to Him.
2. Have compassion
“Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing!” ( I Peter 3:8-9)
Jesus was compassionate. If we claim to be His followers, then we should be compassionate too. While bad behavior should not be condoned, we should always try to see beyond a person’s actions to consider why they are the way they are or why they may be acting the way they do. They may be having a bad day. They may be experiencing some life altering situation in their life. They may have experienced abuse and have not learned to get past the pain.
Different people handle their emotions differently. Some people with bent-up emotions will act badly. I have always believed that those who act the worst most likely need the most loving.
3. Walk in the shoes of others.
“And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye,’ and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly how to remove the speck from you own eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5)
If you see someone living in a way you thought was wrong, put yourself in their shoes. If you had to live the way they did, how would you behave? If you were going through their circumstances, would you be a saint? We should all try to put ourselves in the shoes of others before we judge them.
Additionally, we should remember that the person or people we are judging may very well be a Christian too. We need to remember that they are God’s child and He loves them just as He does you.
4. Get to know others.
Often, when you get to know someone, you discover that he/she is nothing like what you first imagined when you met them. If someone is behaving badly because of a bad situation they are in, maybe what they need is a true, genuine, and loving Christian to come into their lives and help them rather than standing back and judging them.
A good way to get to know others is to talk to them and find out what you may have in common with them. Don’t be afraid to ask them what you can do for them. It means a lot to people to know that there are others that care enough to offer help. If you learn that they are going through a hard time, offer to pray for them. You can also offer to pray with them. Not too long ago, my daughter was experiencing a difficult time in her life, and a stranger offered to pray with her, and my daughter said it made her day and made her troubled heart feel much lighter.
5. Ignore gossip
Too often, we develop judgments of others because of what others have told us about them. The Bible teaches that gossip is wrong. Christians should not be practicing it or listening to it because it does influence your judgment of others. Would you want someone to misjudge you simply on the basis on what someone else said about you? When we hear someone gossip or say something negative about someone else, it is a good idea if we try and think of something positive to say about the person or simply change the subject.
“You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people; nor shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord .” (Leviticus 19:16)
“And a whisperer separates the best of friends. “ (Proverbs 16:28)
“But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters.” (I Peter 4:15)
6. Practice positive thinking.
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
If we practice positive thinking everywhere we go and in all situations, we will be much less likely to misjudge others.
“…bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” (II Corinthians 10:5)
If we can learn to monitor our thoughts, and remember that Christ knows our every thought, good and bad, this also will help us learn to misjudge others less.
7. Love yourself.
“Love never fails.” (I Corinthians 13:8)
So many times the reason people misjudge others is because they are not happy with themselves. When we think negative of ourselves, we allow that negativity to be directed toward others. Learn to love yourself and be happy with yourself. Don’t beat yourself up for your mistakes or faults. Forgive yourself. Practice positive self-talk. Encourage yourself just as you might do a close friend.