Spiritual Growth and Christian Living Resources

7 Ways to Stop Yourself from Judging Others

  • Linda Bernson-Tang Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • Published Jul 15, 2021
7 Ways to Stop Yourself from Judging Others

I’m a judger. I admit it. Maybe because I worked in talk radio and heard issues being debated for hours. Maybe it’s from an inherent nature to form an opinion instantly. Maybe judging comes from the East Coast blood that runs through my veins and the tendency to rush, even when living in laid-back California hasn’t slowed me down. Throw in mom title and there’s a nice ingredient list for judgment-in-the-making.

We make judgments every day – from how someone disciplines their child to how our neighbor’s new countertops look. Like referees, we can blow the whistle all day making judgment calls – the first potential trap; frequency. We take information and run it through our discernment filters for assessment. Was that tone my child used off-putting? Did my friend really just make that comment? Judgments are ways to confirm beliefs or to calm those turbulent waves of insecurity. Perhaps we feel compelled to provide edification to those places of uncertainty within our souls or to stand up for what we believe is fair.

Judging is natural and normal—it’s how we make choices. Sometimes we can see or hear information and our brains convert to a judicial courtroom, weighing the facts.

Is passing judgment bad?

When it produces a superiority complex, gossip, or the shaming or putting down of another, it’s fair to say we have crossed over to the dark side, and ladies, we want to remain bright.

The space between opinion and reaction is where we can trip. What we do with judgment is a choice we make daily and hopefully with righteousness.

As children of God, where is that line of belief that we are right and being just plain old, well, judgy? Judgments can be rational and important to make, but we can come across as obnoxious, inflexible, and hurtful if not careful. Here’s how we can have a bit of decorum:

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When We Are the Judges

We know there are specific situations that call for intervention when it comes to stopping something harmful and inappropriate. Clearly, when necessary, we sometimes have to make judgment calls and consider how to proactively step in to secure help or safety.

But for those everyday moments, how do we draw the line between jumping to judge and doing so maybe unfairly, to just having passing thoughts and moving along? Let’s bring God’s word into the balance. “Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.” (Psalm 119:24) We know that God’s guiding principles are true, right, and correct. We can go to His Word where we discover His guidelines on daily living, including on passing judgment and controlling our mindset.

Scripture on Judgment

Matthew 7:5 “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Luke 6:37 "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

Romans 2:1-3 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment?”

James 4:11-12 “Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 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?”

We know we shouldn’t but still, we do judge our neighbor. And plenty of others.

How do we stop ourselves from judging harshly or wrongly when forming opinions comes so naturally and at times, instantly?

Gavel and Bible

Remember God Is the Authority, Not Man

Because we can feel strongly and get pumped up in our positions on a topic or on what we see, we can develop a superiority complex. Maybe we are medical professionals and pros on illness and disease, teachers who can teach with 20th-century philosophies, lawyers, who can present a rebuttal or closing argument that will win the desired verdict. Maybe we’re a student of the culinary arts and know the best way to cream butter with sugar. Maybe we’re just super well-read on a subject and know we are simply right. No matter what we are an authority on or think we are an authority on, God in His infinite wisdom, is the one true authority in all areas of life. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18) Job discovered that truth as well: “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2)

Praying to God and asking for the ability to see a situation or person through His eyes, can help us to put on a Godly lens and remove our human ones.

“Judging carries with it condemnation, and separation from its subject; it becomes a ‘me/them’ comparison, a superior-to-inferior attitude,” says Janel Breitenstein in her article “Teaching Kids the Difference Between Judgment and Discernment” from Family Life Today. “When you judge people for what they say or do, you place them beneath you. You lose perspective of who you are in the sight of God—namely, a sinner saved by grace who is nothing without Christ making you new every day in God’s mercy.”

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Remember That God Is the One True Judge

Reading scripture helps us to know God and how we should respond and communicate when relating to one another. If God says to be judgmental, then we have cart blanc to do so. But he doesn’t. God tells us to “get wisdom” (Proverbs 4:5), to be discerning, but the right to judge is reserved for God. “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)In Genesis 6, we read that God had determined the whole earth was wicked yet found favor with Noah and decided to put an end to all people (Gen 6:13). After Noah built the Ark according to God’s instructions in preparation for the flood, we see that “God shut him (Noah) in,” (Genesis 7:16) and closed the door. The door had been open and available for any to enter for protection and preservation of life. Likewise, we have an open door of salvation to receive and enter through that Jesus gave by dying for our sins. There would be no need to exercise judgment if we lived in a perfect Garden of Eden-style world the way God had originally established. If none of us sinned, there would be no cause to compare good to bad or right from wrong. There wouldn’t be multiple truths circulating throughout society or falsehoods. We might serve or answer to a boss, figurehead, or person in leadership, but ultimately, God is our true authority.

concerned man thinking about the real meaning of Ezekiel 25 17

7 Ways to Prevent Yourself from Being Judgmental

1. Don’t gossip. Like old food, judgment can turn rancid if not contained properly. We don’t want judgment leading to gossip or anger. We must take our thoughts and stand guard at the bridge connecting them to our tongues. “Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.” (James 4:11) Furthermore, Romans 1:28 lists gossip with the worst of sins. Even though the actions of another can stir up strong emotions, we must monitor our response and not succumb to anger. “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” (Ephesians 4:26)

2. Don’t let pride puff you up. I can only imagine the number of situations Jesus had to judge others when He was on earth. Even in the last week of His life, upon arrest, questioning, condemnation, trial, and sentencing, Jesus had every right by human standards to judge, convince, persuade and condemn the chief priests, officers, elders, and Roman authorities. Jesus did not yell, argue nor try to resist death. He spoke few words when arrested and was not defensive. He did not resist the seizing authorities. He even asked God to forgive those who counted themselves as His enemy. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

The woman caught in adultery was another opportunity for Jesus to judge and condemn but Jesus’ response when the Pharisees accused her demonstrates everything but condemnation. Jesus knelt down and wrote on the ground with his finger after the Pharisees asked, “Now what do you say?” (John 8:5), he got up (John 8:7) and told the crowd that if anyone is without sin to throw a stone. Asking a question helps to arrive at truth when discussions turn to debates. Jesus challenged the crowd that caused them to drop the matter. Each person in the crowd knew they had a sin problem and that terminated the situation. Jesus didn’t condemn the crowd nor the woman. He told the woman to “go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11)

Disengaging or walking away from a heated discussion before it potentially devours your sensibilities and relationship, is healthy. Setting a personal boundary that sets limits on how far a conversation that is potentially upsetting can go, is protective.

3. If there is one, drop “the tone.” Sometimes our tone can be filled with judgment, distaste, and disdain. The same way God extends us His grace is the way we should extend it to others. We may feel proud of ourselves that we aren’t dealing with a certain behavior or situation but easy does it, “Pride goeth before the fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) Just because someone else’s struggle isn’t one of our own, doesn’t give us justification to elevate ourselves. We’re all dealing with weaknesses. Let our tones convey understanding. “Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” (Proverbs 16:24)

4. Avoid asking questions you aren’t prepared to hear answers on. My mother always said, “If you stop hitting your head against a wall it won’t hurt.” Refrain from putting yourself in a situation with a person whom you know might trigger your sensitivities. Sometimes past dialogue can serve as a predictor of a future conversation. Know your audience, the pattern of past conversations, and avoid the temptation to discuss subjects that will lead you to frustration.

5. Remember how it feels to be judged.

We have all been in conversations where we have felt the weight of disapproval. Stay confident in the reasons that led you to your belief or choice. Decisions are for you to determine and calculate, pray through, not to defend. “People have influence in our lives, and they’ll always have an opinion when we have a decision to make,” says Charles F. Stanley of In Touch Ministries. “But they aren’t you and will never know better than you what God’s will is for your life.”

6. Remember that everyone has their own life experience. Opposing opinions over culture, politics, and social behavior don’t mean that you are in the wrong. Everyone’s feelings are worthwhile. No matter how agitated we become, people have reasons for their beliefs; a history, past experience, maybe a trauma or painful event. Trying to understand that sometimes pain brought about a way of thinking can help in taking our reactivity down a notch.

7. Be a vessel of love. Instead of going point by point and winning an argument or trying to be persuasive, focus on the relational aspects of discussion. Ask yourself, “How can I respond that encourages another rather than being argumentative and possibly bringing someone’s spirits and their argument down?” If convincing someone out of their viewpoint is the main objective, try changing up the goal to loving, not winning.

And if you really need to speak your mind and just vent, turn on talk radio and call in. Judgment is welcome and you might feel a lot better.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/diego_cervo

Linda Bernson-Tang is a Southern California native but a Bostonian and Red Sox fan at heart.  Her career in marketing and PR began at 'TEEN Magazine, when her first YA romance novel was published, continuing on to Miss Universe Inc., and KABC TalkRadio/ESPN. She volunteers with Buddy Breaks, a special needs ministry, and CBS (Community Bible Study).  She lives with her husband and two daughters (her white lab arguably makes 3) in Los Angeles where she writes for a variety of parenting publications: www.lindawriteson.com.