There are a lot of rules in the Bible. In fact, most of the Old Testament is about rules, who broke them and what happened when they did. The New Testament is a bit different. The rules are basically about two things; loving God and loving our neighbor. That is where “judge not” comes in.
We all do it: Being a Christian does not mean that we automatically become perfect. I don’t know about anyone else but if you could hear me muttering while I’m driving, you’d recognize that there’s some judgment going on…even though I’m no better at driving.
Why is it bad? There are many reasons it’s bad. First and foremost, it’s not usually loving your neighbor. It can also distract us from our walk with Christ. While I don’t believe in karma, I have noticed that many things I judge others about are things I’ve done. Keeping to the driving theme, there are times when I’ve driven slower than the speed limit or forgotten to use a turn signal. What right do I have, since I do those things, to judge another driver doing them?
The worst part about why judging others is bad is because it gives a “holier than thou” look to Christianity. We aren’t better than others because we are Christians. We are better Christians when we love others.
All of the laws: I’ve had this debate before. Jesus said that, “all of the laws and the prophets” are based on the two laws I mentioned. The greatest commandment, to love our God and the one like unto it, to love our neighbor are pretty clear.
Stopping the trend: First, let me say that there are times when judgment is needed. I am not referring to criminal judgment. I’m referring to social judgment. That point has to be made so that we can deal with the real problem.
Romans 3:23 is very clear: For *all* have sinned and come short of the glory of God. What right do I have to judge you when I’m just as guilty in some part of my life? Unless and until I’m perfect…which literally won’t be in this lifetime…I can’t.
Matthew 20:22-24 makes another point. Render unto Caesar that which is Caesars. We don’t live in a theocracy. Ancient Rome wasn’t challenged to change its laws to suit Christianity by Jesus. Christians were challenged to live up to Christ’s laws.
Using the driving theme, it isn’t against the law to drive lower than the speed limit (unless you’re impeding traffic). It’s irritating to other drivers, but it isn’t illegal. That’s our country’s law. If someone isn’t breaking it, where do we stand in judging it?
Breaking our tendency to judge others is personal. I can’t tell you, the reader, what to do. I can only tell you what I am struggling to do. When I find myself being judgmental, I stop. Sometimes it takes a few mental “but s/he’s….” before my brain listens, but I stop. Do you know what happens then? I’m not as stressed out about what the other driver is doing that irritates me.