"Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him 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? Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." James 4:11-17
We talk a lot about judging. We know it is not a good thing and we know that we shouldn't do it and we know that we don't want others doing it to us. But, really, what is it? What does it mean to judge someone else? Let's examine that this morning.
When you meet someone you immediately form an opinion of that person. That is natural and is actually healthy. If you had no discernment toward other people, you could possibly put yourself in danger.
When someone else meets you they do the same thing - they form an initial opinion of you. God wired us that way for our protection and benefit. It is called prejudice - you prejudge them.
So, when does it become judging? When does a natural thing become a sinful thing? When does forming a healthy impression cross the line to judgment?
First impressions or prejudging becomes a sin when you allow your first impression to become your final impression and you never take time to get to know the real person. You would not want someone to treat you that way. You would want to be given the chance to prove yourself and reveal yourself more fully. So, judging is to draw a conclusion about someone without really getting to know them.
Also, judging is when you allow a personal prejudice such as race or religion affect your opinion of another person. Anytime you arbitrarily catagorize someone into a group without making the effort to get to know them, that is judging.
Slander is even worse than judging because it involves imposing your opinion about someone upon another person before that person has an opportunity to get to know them. You are depriving another person of the opportunity to draw their own conclusion. Keep your opinions to yourself!
Judging can also be projecting a previous experience upon a present situation. Maybe you were hurt by a person of a certain race or from a certain place and that causes you to suspect anyone else who is like that. You form your opinion based on your own baggage and never give that person a chance to be known for who they are.
James says that a Christian should never allow a first impression to become a lasting impression. A Christian should always extend the benefit of the doubt and make the effort to become personally acquainted with that person. And even if you do get to know that person and you still decide you do not like him that is fine, but do not impose your dislike for that person upon another person.
God is the only One qualified to judge because only He knows everything about everyone. He knows who you are, the condition of your heart, how you think, and why you do the things you do. He knows that about everyone else, too.
So, unless you are God or until you become God - keep your opinions to yourself.