Judging Causes Problems
(taken from the book "I Will Give You Rest" by Edward Kurath)
We All Sin Frequently By Judging
If I were to observe that my neighbor never mows his lawn and
that his yard is always a mess, somebody may say to me, "Don't
be so judgmental." When I observe this about my neighbor, am I
judging? Am I sinning? It is certainly important for us to know the
answer to these questions so that we can avoid sinning and thus
creating problems for ourselves as a result. Of course there are
other sins besides "judging," but this particular sin causes the
most problems in our lives.
There Is Both "Good" And "Bad"
"Judging" is not always sin. The Bible talks about four types of
judging, three types that are not sin (good judging), and one that
is sin (bad judging). What is confusing is that the Bible uses the
same Greek word to refer to all four types, and so one must rely
on the context to discern which type is being referred to.
1. The judging that Jesus does. Since He is the just and
righteous Judge Who has been appointed to this position,
He has a right to do this.
2. The judicial authority that is to be exercised corporately
by the Church in regard to members of the Church. Judging
in this context is appropriate and ordained by God.
3. An activity that we are supposed to engage in as
individual Christians. An English word that would perhaps
be more appropriate for this function would be
“discernment." We are to use wisdom and to exercise
discernment. It is not only permissible to see the negative in
a situation or a person, we are encouraged to do so.
Bad (sinful) judging
4. The fourth type of judging is the type of judging that we
are not supposed to do as individual Christians. This type of
judging by us is sin. When we do this type of judging, we
are seeing the negative in a situation or a person, but we are
also setting ourselves up as the judge, jury, and hangman.
The Sinful Judging Is Destructive
There are, of course, many ways we can sin. However, of all the
sins that we commit, this "bad" judging is the sin that causes the
most problems in our lives. When we find ourselves doing the
things that we hate, the root that is causing this bad fruit is almost
always a judgement.
". . . lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble,
and by this many become defiled" (Hebrews 12:15).
Considering the size of the problem this sin causes, surely it must
be a very serious issue.
Why We Do This:
The problem has its source in the Garden of Eden. When the
“For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be
opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil”
Adam and Eve took this bait because something inside of them
wanted to be like God. Satan knew all about this sin, because this
was also his big transgression.
Therefore, when we judge another we are taking the place of
Jesus, and of course this is a very serious transgression. Jesus
is the only one who has the right to judge.
Jesus Is The Only Judge
So when we judge, we are usurping God’s place. When we do
this, we are violating the first Great Commandment:
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all
your soul, and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37).
There is only one God, and it isn't us! We are doing the judging
because we do not trust God to take care of us and to hold others
accountable when they trespass against us (and therefore wound
us). We feel we must take the law into our own hands; because if
we don’t do it, we believe that nobody will.
All major problems in our human life have their roots in the
Garden of Eden, and in the two great commandments of Jesus
(Matthew 22:36-40). God has truly explained spiritual reality to us
in such simple terms!
Why do we all judge so quickly? It is a part of our fallen nature.
When we perceive that we have been wounded, we always
automatically react with bitterness, judgment, and
blame. For instance, picture yourself in your kitchen cutting up a
carrot. The phone rings, and you lose your concentration and cut
your finger instead of the carrot.
What is your immediate response?
Stop for a minute and think abut what
your immediate, knee-jerk response
Do you blame the carrot? Do you blame the dull knife? Do you
blame your spouse for not sharpening the knife? Do you blame
the person who called you? Or do you blame yourself, saying
something like this, "You dummy. Why weren’t you paying more
attention to what you were doing?"
Blaming myself was always my typical response.
Why couldn't the cut finger just be something that happened?
Why did somebody or something have to be at fault?
The answer is because it is our fallen nature to judge.
This is the problem.
Daily we plant numerous roots of bitterness. Since life in this
fallen world entails lots of wounding, we do a lot of judging.
It is automatic, and we have done it before we
consciously know it.
Because we have planted many roots of bitterness, we are
reaping much bad fruit.
Tragically, as long as we walk this earth, we will never
lose this tendency to automatically react to wounding
with bitterness, judgment and blame.
This tendency is an integral part of our fallen human nature.
The Bad News and The Good News
We all judge, and we do it often. If you think you don’t do it, there
is one sure way to discover the truth. Ask yourself, do you do the
things that you hate to do? Is there bad fruit in your life? If there
is bad fruit, there are roots of bitterness in you.
Fortunately, you now have a way to clean up the mess. As often
as you judge, you can forgive and be forgiven. The bad root can
be pulled out as soon as it is planted.
How Can You Tell The Difference?
At first glance this may seem terribly confusing. How can you tell
if the judging you have just done is good or bad? Fortunately, the
Lord has provided a very simple way to tell the difference.
Suppose I live in a small town and I am thinking about going into
business with a certain man. I check around and find out that this
person has a reputation for being dishonest, and so I decide not
to go into business with him. I have judged (discerned) as I am
supposed to do.
Alternatively, suppose I live in the small town and I am thinking
about going into business with a certain man. Without first
checking around and discovering his reputation, I go into
business with him. After the business starts I discover that he is
not honest. By the time I can get myself out of the business deal it
has cost me $100,000. I am now in possession of the same
information (that he isn't honest) as in the first example, but you
can be sure that in this situation I have done the bad type of
How can I tell that I have done the bad judging? Every time I think
about that "jerk" I feel like strangling him. Every time I think of him
I become very angry and upset. He wounded me, and I judged
him for it.
On the other hand, in the first example, I am probably not upset
with the man, because I didn't judge him wrongly. After all, he
didn't wound me. I am at peace.
I Feel The Difference!
How can I tell whether I have judged someone in the way that I am
not supposed to? I feel it. I can absolutely feel the bitterness of
the bitter root that has been planted inside me.
When I realize that I have judged him in the way that I am not
supposed to, I can forgive him and be forgiven by Jesus (see
Chapter 5, "Forgiving Ends These Problems"). Then I no longer
feel like calling him a "jerk."
We can feel the planting of a bitter root, because we have built into
us a sensitivity to wounding in our heart. A parallel to this would
be when we get a splinter in our finger. We have built into us a
sensitivity to physical wounding. When a splinter gets lodged in
our finger, we know it is there because we feel it. When we
remove the splinter, our body will know that and will tell us by a
feeling of relief of the discomfort. Likewise, when we remove the
bitter root, our heart will know that and will tell us (if we are
listening) by a feeling of peace in place of the bitterness.
Denial - A Defense Mechanism
Most of the time we can tell whether we have judged another
person by the feeling. However, there are times when we will not
feel bitterness towards the one who wronged us. When a wound
we have received is particularly severe, we may have built a
defense to protect us from feeling the pain.
For instance, a girl may have been abused by her father, and yet
have no sense of her rage towards him. The pain she felt at the
time was too big to live with, so she cut herself off from the
feeling. We call this sort of defense mechanism "denial."
However, it will still be possible to discover there is a Bitter Root
Judgment inside. In this sort of situation, because the wounding
was large, there will be bad fruit in her life that will indicate the
presence of a bad root; and so she can track backwards from the
bad fruit to the bad root.
I have made the statement that we always automatically respond
to perceived wounding with bitterness, judgment, and blame. It
doesn't matter whether the other person actually, factually,
wounded us. What counts is that we feel that they did.
For instance, suppose I was abandoned by my parents when I
was a small child. This is a real wounding, and has made me
sensitive to abandonment. Then as an adult, suppose a friend of
mine declines to go to a ballgame with me, telling me he is too
tired. I feel abandoned and judge him, because it seems to me he
was making an excuse. Later I find out the friend was coming
down with the flu, and he really had wanted to go to the game with
There was no actual wound inflicted by my friend, but I wrongly
perceived there was, so I judged. My prior wounds and
judgments make me more sensitive to how others
behave around me.
The Lord Makes Us Less
As the Lord heals these wounded areas, I will react less often,
because I will perceive less wounding less often. However, this
change should not be confused with my built in human tendency
to react with bitterness, judgment and blame. I don't react less
now because that tendency has gone away or is being healed. I
react less because I perceive wounding less often. The next time I
am actually wounded by someone, I will discover that my
tendency to judge has not gone away, because I will again find
The sequence that occurs is as follows: My friend declines my
invitation. I perceive that I have been wounded (abandoned). This
automatically triggers my judging, which plants a root of
bitterness in my heart. I then feel abandoned, making me aware,
after the fact, that the root of bitterness has been planted inside.
Unfortunately, the more bad roots we have, the more bad fruit we
have. This is why "judging" is so damaging to us. To make
matters worse, the longer a bad root grows inside us, the bigger it
gets, the more entrenched it is, and the more difficult it is to
eradicate. The bigger the root, the more pervasive is the bad fruit.
It Is God’s Mercy That We Feel
If we did not feel the emotional pain, we wouldn’t know there is
something wrong inside, and the sin would remain in us. When
we die, we will go to the Great White Throne Judgment, and there
all our sins will be placed before us. Scripture doesn’t tell us what
the negative consequences will be, but there is a strong
implication that we would be better off without those sins.
Since the sins that have been washed away by Jesus during our
lifetime will not be there, we won’t have to pay the price for them at
the last judgment.
Because the Lord takes the long view, including eternity, He
wants to have the opportunity to forgive our sins here, in this life,
before we face the Last Judgment. Of course, our unforgiven sins
will not keep us out of heaven. We will still be saved, but we will
We do not know when our life on earth will end. But as time goes
by the end of our life draws nearer. It therefore becomes more
and more urgent that we give our sins to Jesus. God therefore
increases the pain, and our burdens get harder to carry until we
get desperate enough to seek the cause. We need to forgive now
so we won’t have to pay later.
God Changes Us Into His Image
In Chapter 2 I talked about the place of our will power, and the fact
that in Western culture our will power has been placed upon the
throne of our lives. This view is so subtle, pervasive, and
automatic that it can sneak into our thinking undetected. For
example, some Bible teachers try to explain that the way to walk
out the Christian life is for God to strengthen our will so that we
can obey. These teachers believe that our will power is the tool to
But what God intends is for us to be changed into His image. It is
a miracle. When He removes a bitter root and comes to live in that
place in us, obeying Him is automatic and effortless. In fact, it is
so effortless that we may not even realize that we are behaving
differently. The good root produces good fruit, because it can
do nothing else.
We all automatically react to perceived wounding with bitterness,
judgment, and blame. This flaw is a part of our fallen nature. We
do this many times daily, and this is sin. Every time we do this we
plant a bitter root which, in time, will bear bad fruit. The more that
we are wounded, the more bitter roots we have planted, and the
more we will be reaping bad things in our life. God's laws are
operating against us.
It is therefore important to realize that what is going
wrong in our life is not because of what others did to us,
but it is because of our bitter reaction to what they did.
The good news is that there is a "cure" for the damage the
sinning has caused.
Since most of the bad roots that make such a shambles
of our lives come from the sin of judging, of taking Jesus'
place as Lord of our lives at that moment of judging, you
are now in a place to understand the cure: if we forgive
the one who offended us, then we are forgiven by
Jesus. Then the bad root is washed away, and the bad
fruit stops. But we need to understand how to forgive,
which is the subject of the next chapter.
Click here to go to the next chapter
to learn how to take out the bitter roots.
If what you have been reading makes sense to you, then
to actually take this journey out of your brokenness and
into peace, you need the whole story.
My book, "I Will Give You Rest" gives you the whole
story, including the scriptures revealing how Jesus and
you can do this.
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Copyright 2003 by Edward Kurath
Being changed into the image of Jesus