Be Patient in Judgment

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. –Matthew 7:1-2

Ask a person to describe a fruit tree during each of the four different seasons and you’ll receive four very different answers. In winter, a barren tree exists. In spring, the tree will have leaves and colorful blossoms. In summer, a tree full of fruit is seen. And, in autumn, the tree is fading in color and its leaves are falling. If a person is asked to describe the tree at a certain time of the year, he or she will describe it based on its current condition; however, that description, although accurate at the time, is not the whole story. The tree changes through the different seasons and the person would have to be patient in order to see the tree in all its seasons and capture a complete description.

The same notion can be applied to how we judge people in times of conflict. What we may describe at any given point may be an accurate description, but may not reflect the whole story. Both circumstances and people change.

The specific situations in which people find themselves often influence their behaviors in other areas of their lives. For example, conflict at home or trouble at work may overflow into one’s private life. Perhaps we tend to make judgments too quickly, reacting or overreacting in ways that aren’t based on the big picture, but rather the “season” we may encounter in another’s life experiences.

Sure, some of our interactions with people require snap judgments. But, I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that most do not. We would do well in these instances to withhold judgment until we gain a fuller understanding of what is really going on.

In the Scriptures, we read that Christ-followers are to be cautious, patient, and forgiving when it comes to judgment. How we judge others will determine how we will be judged.

Think about your own life for a minute. It’s likely you’ve found yourself in situations where you have not been at your best, and have sinned in word or action and someone has called you to account, based on what you have done or said. Completely understandable! But, it’s likely that you do not want others to judge you based solely on one incident.

Even so, may we be people who are careful in judgment, patient, and forgiving, giving others plenty of grace when they, so often like ourselves, don’t measure up to how they ought to live. Let’s always look to gain a better understanding of what might lie underneath the surface when we experience conflicts with others.

1. At which relationships in your life might you need to take a deeper look in order to see the big picture of what’s going on?

2. Have you judged another person too harshly? What steps can you take to repair your relationship?

Matthew 18:21-35; Colossians 3:13-14

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Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, editor, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord Culture Blog also appears on Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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