Do not judge, or you too will be judged. Matthew 7:1
This is a tricky verse because elsewhere we are told to judge. For example, “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly” (John 7:24). Often the temptation is to judge by mere appearances. I read this quote by author and theologian, David Augsburger, “People judge others’ actions by their effects and their own actions by their intentions.”
We believe our intentions are always good even if our actions are deficient. Even then, we feel we have legitimate reasons for any failures—busyness, being under-resourced, unrealistic expectations. Often we don’t know the intentions of others so we’re tempted to judge only their behaviour. At such times we can remind ourselves that we never have enough information to set our judgements in concrete. We never know what work God is doing in their hearts or will do in the future to have any finality about our conclusions. Oft times we would be wise to keep our opinions to ourselves, particularly regarding issues that don’t concern us.
Furthermore, we have to be careful that our judgements don’t come out of pride. Do we criticize others because we think we are better than they are? Perhaps we think we are a better writer, singer, preacher and our judgements are coming out of our own insecurity rather than out of any real sense of discernment. We desire God to be gracious in his dealings with us, therefore we ought to be gracious towards others.
Overall the message here is don’t usurp God’s role of judging as it’s not our job to pass judgement and be critical of others, especially as it’s only God who knows their motives. Don’t set your judgements in concrete as God isn’t finished with any of us yet!