My older daughter came home from school yesterday puzzled about a decision one of her friends had made. It was very different from the decision she would have made. While she was telling me about it, her conversation crossed from discussion to judgment.
I stopped her and reminded her that everyone has to make their own decisions. Every family is different. We all have different goals and different values. We have different ways of looking at things. Which means we're going to make very different decisions.
Two Christ-following families can be in the same situation and make two very different decisions -- with neither one being wrong. Those decisions are simply the ones that are best for that particular family.
Yet, our tendency is to pass judgment on others' decisions. Our tendency is to assume that anyone who doesn't make the same decisions we make is wrong. We want to hold others to the same standards that we hold ourselves and our family to, so we pass judgment on others.
Why do we do this? Why are we so busy passing judgment on others? I, personally, think we pass judgment on others at the times when we're most insecure with our own decisions. In order to prove ourselves right and to make ourselves feel better about the decisions we're making, we pass judgment on others who make different decisions.
But God is pretty clear about the whole passing judgment thing. Matthew 7:1 says "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." Yikes. I'm pretty sure I don't want to be judged with the same measuring stick I use on others because that measuring stick isn't always fair.
Our kids learn to judge others by watching us. When they hear us criticize a neighbor, friend or family member, they are learning to judge someone else. They are learning that it's OK to use our own measuring stick on other people.
The truth is that it's not our job to judge; it's God's. Our job is to love others and to be a picture of Him to this world. We are to be light in the darkness, not the bringer of judgment.
If we want our kids to learn not to judge others, then we have to stop judging others ourselves. We have to stop measuring other people by our own measuring stick and instead love others with God's love. Imagine what the world would be like if we made that one simple change.