Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. (James 4:11)

I’D LIKE TO BELIEVE that I’ve never slandered another person. To slander is to malign someone or damage a person’s reputation by sharing false or misleading information. That is sin.

Yet we are often called upon to make judgments about others. When I served on jury duty, I was expected to impartially judge the culpability of another individual. During an election, I judge each candidate’s integrity. No citizen should fail to call a failed leader to account. In a sinful world, no community can exist for long where no one is ever held accountable.

Though these may be legitimate occasions to exercise judgment, I struggle with being judgmental or critical. While it is true that I should not condemn others or judge them unjustly, I have to make judgments of ideas, situations, and even people each day. Jesus cautions that I should not judge others in a hypocritical way. He says that I should take the log out of my own eye so that I can help the other person.

Because I depend on the mercy of God, how can I deny to others the measure of God’s grace? The people around me are not perfect, even as I am not perfect. People do things that annoy, irritate, disappoint me. In this life, it will always be that way.

The definitive solution to my dilemma is that only God, who knows each individual’s heart, can make final judgments of individuals.

Today, offer God’s grace to one who is being judged by others.

Drexel Rankin is a retired ordained minister who served in Indiana, Alabama, and Kentucky. He and his wife, Patty, live in Louisville, Kentucky.

© 2018 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.