“Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1 NKJ). God gives us scripture to live a better, healthier life. But sometimes those guides are oh so difficult to live by.

In the book of Matthew, God chastises us about being judgmental of others. He calls us out, then gives us instruction to help our brother: “Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5). Ouch!

How many times have we caught ourselves being judgmental of others? How many times have you heard others being judgmental? How many times have you felt unjustly judged? Ouch, again.

It is interesting that we can easily recall times when we have been judged. It is painful. Sometimes it hurts to the core. It can bring up our defensiveness, and can mar relationships or even end them.

I recall a time when I was having trouble with my neck, and having headaches. I was experiencing stress in life that included graduate school, a family member dying of cancer, being a step parent, remodeling my house, working too many hours a week managing a mental health program; and those are just the things I can remember. I had gone to the doctor for help with my headaches and I remember him making a condescending comment about my profession in a way that indicated I was not practicing what I preached for stress management.

This doctor had no idea of the amount of stress in my life, nor did he inquire about it, nor did he ask about all the different coping and stress management skills I was actively practicing. He passed judgment without knowing the full story, and he missed the big picture.

It is more difficult for us to recall times when we judge others; I am guilty, how about you? It is part of our humanity. It is also part of God's call, and duty to one another, to be aware of our own judgments, to be aware of the strife in others’ lives, so we, too, can see the big picture and feel empathy for our brethren.

Be careful. Don't make hasty judgments about the speck in your brother's eye. You may not know all of what is going on in their life that results in their weakness of the moment. Ask, listen, offer your help. If you have caught yourself judging others, correct yourself. Take a look at the plank in your own eye. Practice being empathetic. Redirect yourself to Matthew 7:12 – “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. “

—Linda Yearout,

Licensed Clinical Marriage & Family Therapist, Hope's Place, Wichita