Judgment and criticism were rampant in my family, so I "grew up with them," so to speak. I wanted to do things God's way, but I couldn't. It took many years of misery before I learned about the strongholds in my mind that had to be dealt with before my behavior could change.
Matthew 7:1-5 are some of the classic Scriptures on the subject of judgment and criticism. When you are having trouble with your mind in this area, use these Scriptures and others as weapons against the devil who is attempting to build a stronghold in your mind. He may be operating out of a stronghold that has already been there for many years.
Sowing and Reaping
The Scriptures plainly tell us that we will reap what we sow (Matt. 7:1-2; Gal. 6:7). This also applies to the mental realm.
We can sow and reap an attitude as well as a crop or an investment. Many times we are reaping in our lives what we have previously sown into the life of another.
The devil loves to keep us busy, mentally judging the faults of others. That way, we never see or deal with what is wrong with us!
We cannot change others; only God can. We cannot change ourselves either, but we can cooperate with the Holy Spirit and allow Him to do the work.
When we have our thoughts and conversation on what is wrong with everyone else, we are usually being deceived about our own conduct. Therefore, Jesus commanded that we not concern ourselves with what is wrong with others when we have so much wrong with ourselves (Matt. 7:3-5). Allow God to deal with you first, and then you will learn the scriptural way of helping your brother grow in his Christian walk.
Besides reaping judgment ourselves when we criticize others, the Scriptures tell us that we ourselves do the same things for which we criticize others (Rom. 2:1). The Lord gave me a good example once to help me understand this principle.
I was pondering why we would do something ourselves and think it was perfectly all right but judge someone else who does it. The Lord said, "Joyce, you look at yourself through rose-colored glasses, but you look at everyone else through a magnifying glass."
We make excuses for our own behavior, but when someone else does the same thing we do, we are often merciless. Doing unto others as we want them to do to us (Matt. 7:12) is a good life principle that will prevent a lot of judgment and criticism, if followed.
A judgmental mind is an offshoot of a negative mind—thinking about what is wrong with an individual instead of what is right. Being positive and not negative will benefit others, but you will benefit more than anyone.
Be Suspicious of Suspicion
First Corinthians 13:7 reads, "Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person" (AMP).
I can honestly say that obedience to this Scripture has always been a challenge for me. I was brought up to be suspicious and to distrust everyone. In addition, I had several very disappointing experiences with people, not only before I became an active Christian but afterward as well. Meditating on the components of love and realizing that love always believes the best has helped me greatly to develop a new mind-set.
When your mind has been poisoned or when Satan has gained strongholds in your mind, it has to be renewed according to God's Word. You renew it by learning the Word and meditating on it—pondering, muttering to yourself and thinking on it.
We have the wonderful Holy Spirit in us to remind us when our thoughts are going in the wrong direction. God does this for me when I am having suspicious thoughts instead of loving thoughts.
The natural man thinks, "If I trust people, I'll be taken advantage of." Perhaps, but the benefits will far outweigh any negative experiences.
Trust and faith bring joy to life and help relationships grow to their maximum potential. Suspicion cripples a relationship and usually destroys it.
God condemns judgment, criticism and suspicion, and so should we. Love what God loves, and hate what He hates. Allow what He allows, and disallow what He disallows.
A balanced attitude is always the best policy. That doesn't mean we are not to use wisdom and discernment in our dealings with others. We don't have to throw open our lives to everyone we meet, giving every person we encounter a chance to crush us. On the other hand, we don't have to look at everyone with a negative, suspicious eye, always expecting to be taken advantage of by others.
One time after I had been involved in a disappointing church situation, God brought John 2:23-25 to my attention. It speaks of Jesus' relationship with His disciples.