13. Criticizing: Judging

Included in the sins of pride, which God treats especially severely, are the sins of criticizing and judging. "God opposes the proud" (I Pet. 5: 5). Even if a person believes in Jesus, if at the same time, he persists in judging others God is not for him. Then God has to be against him. But it would be terrible to have God as our opponent, to be under His wrath, which will have its full effect in the other world. That is why Jesus warns us so sharply: "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged" (Matt. 7: 1,2).

Judging others will bring the wrath of God down upon us. He will be against us, because this sin is especially satanic. Judging others and accusing them is what Satan does. He is the accuser. Judging is one of the manifestations of our pride, manipulated by Satan. In great presumptuousness we sit in judgment on everything that we see or hear about others, usually without knowing the background and the motives of their behaviour or mistakes. Judging is satanic poison in our hearts, which can bring us terrible judgment, if we persist in it. Jesus tells us this clearly by addressing those who judge with the words; "You hypocrites!" (Matt. 7: 5). Jesus threatens the hypocrites, saying they will not enter His kingdom, but the kingdom of hell; they will go to the "father of lies". So the spirit of criticism, nourished by the accuser, is our greatest enemy. We have to hate it from the bottom of our hearts and not tolerate it in the slightest, unless we want to find ourselves in the kingdom of the accuser instead of with Jesus.

How can we attack this enemy? First, recognize the fact that we are full of criticism and stop trying to explain it away. We should no longer make excuses for ourselves by saying, "I have to tell others what they are doing wrong to prevent them from making a mess of things." In reality, however, we enjoy correcting others and reproaching them. Often the real source of our criticism is rebellion or annoyance, because someone did something against our wishes.

Therefore, we criticize him and accuse him. So in the light of God we have to ascertain that it is presumptuous to accuse others, to reproach them and especially to pronounce our verdicts in front of someone else. Then we will become guilty towards our neighbour, by getting others to be against him, and this could seriously harm him. When we search our consciences in our quiet time, we should ask ourselves: Where have I brought guilt upon myself by judging others and reproaching them? What has my spirit of criticism brought about? Perhaps it has even ruined people's lives. Have I harmed the souls of people at home or at work by reproaching them again and again and continually accusing them? If we--perhaps as a parent or educator--have filled our hearts with this satanic poison and sprayed it out at others, we have to admit that we are subject to God's condemnation, that we were Satan's servants.

What a terrible harvest we will reap! Our criticism will rob us of the most precious gift that Jesus has given us: forgiveness and the blotting out of our sins. Criticism provokes the wrath of God, who has forgiven us, as the parable of the unmerciful servant tells us. Although He had forgiven this servant, He delivers him to the jailers, because this servant would not forgive his fellow-servants (Matt. 18: 32-34).

So it means that we have to make every effort to get free from this spirit of criticism and whole-heartedly repent. Here we must act according to Jesus' words, "If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out!" (Mark 9: 47). That means waging an intensive battle against the satanic sin of judging others. Jesus clearly shows us the way and we have to follow it. Otherwise there will be no release. "First take the log out of your own eye!" (Matt. 7: 5). Jesus is exhorting us: Stop giving your opinions about others and accusing them, before you become quiet in the presence of God and ask Him whether you are guilty of the same sin. Our sin of criticism usually begins when we neglect to do this. We do not follow Jesus' words; we criticize immediately without first becoming silent in the presence of God and humbling ourselves under our sin which is even greater. When we come into the light of God, we will usually find out that we have the same faults, perhaps even more dominantly and many other undesirable traits in addition. Then we will see that our guilt is like a log in contrast to our brother's splinter. We will be ashamed of our own sin and lose our presumptuous and indignant desire to criticize others.

Then we will be struck by what the Apostle Paul writes, "Therefore you have no excuse, O man, whoever you are, when you judge another; for in passing judgment upon him you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things." (Rom. 2: 1). And further: "Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God"-and be judged for this sin (Rom. 14: 10).

So today we must choose a new way, a new place. Instead of sitting on the judgment throne above the others we must sit where we deserve to sit: in the defendant's box, where we can be judged and hear God's judgment on our sins. When we are willing to do this, God will no longer be against us and we will no longer be in the hand of the accuser. On the contrary, we will belong to our Lord Jesus, who had to let Himself be accused in five trials. He did this, although He was innocent. Shouldn't we, who are guilty, be able to take this place? If we earnestly begin to judge ourselves, we will ask people at home and at work to tell us the straight truth about ourselves. Humbled beneath this, we will be able to accept the reproaches of others, even when they are unjust. Then our lips and hearts will be silent and we will not be able to criticize others so quickly and judge them so harshly.

Jesus went the way of humble love. He humbled Himself in the dust and let Himself be judged. Now He has redeemed the members of His body to live this love, which covers up others' mistakes instead of criticizing, which forgives and tolerates instead of making reproaches, which bestows kindness instead of criticism.

This does not mean tolerating sin. But if we should ever have to pronounce judgment, we will do it quite clearly but with a humble and loving heart.

But whoever wages a war of life and death against his spirit of criticism will find that nothing sits so deeply in our Adam's nature as the spirit of criticism. It will not disappear overnight by making one commitment, "I want to let myself be judged and place my mouth in the dust." No, our blood is infected with it. There is only one Person who is stronger than our old Adam. It is Jesus Christ. His blood has greater power than the blood that we have inherited from our fathers. This blood of Jesus has complete power to free us, if we call upon it ever anew; in it there is really power to cleanse us from our sins, from the great sin of judging others, from hypocrisy, which makes us guilty and brings us into Satan's hands. In faith we must appropriate the redeeming power of this blood. This will only happen in an intensive fight against this sin, in a daily battle of faith and prayer. This includes speaking the "nevertheless" of faith in spite of the defeats we experience: "I am redeemed to love and to forgive!" Whoever is willing to endure in this battle in spite of his short-comings, believing in Jesus' redemption, will be freed from his great sin of judging others.

Chapter 12 Table of Contents Chapter 14