Assuming things about others can lead us into trouble. The Bible has a lot to say about making assumptions and judging others before knowing the facts. In this comprehensive article, we’ll explore several key Bible verses about assuming and learn how we can avoid this harmful habit.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The Bible warns against assuming or judging others, as we cannot know their hearts. We are called to be slow to judge and quick to extend grace.
Bible Verses on Judging and Assuming
Matthew 7:1-2 – Do Not Judge Others
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2)
This famous passage from the Sermon on the Mount warns believers against the temptation of passing judgement on others. When we assume the worst about people and make judgments about their character or motivations, we put ourselves in the place of God who alone sees the heart and knows all things.
The wise person understands their own spiritual poverty before rushing to condemn others. There are certainly times to exercise discernment, but we must be careful to focus first on our own need for God’s mercy.
The danger of a judgmental spirit is that God will treat us the way we treat others. With the yardstick we use to measure others, God will measure our own lives. This serves as a sobering warning to avoid self-righteous condemnation of others and to instead extend grace as we have received grace.
James 4:11-12 – There is Only One Lawgiver and Judge
“Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them 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?” (James 4:11-12)
James sternly warns in this passage against “speaking evil” against each other and judging one another. When we set ourselves up as a judge of others, we are putting ourselves in the place of God, who gave the moral law in Scripture.
By judging others negatively without all the facts, we are speaking evil of what God has called good. Since there is only one perfect Judge, we should restrain our tongues and pronounce judgement exceedingly carefully, if at all.
As the second part of the verse 12 makes clear, it is the height of arrogance for us as imperfect people to set ourselves up as judges over others. We don’t have the perfect perspective and insight of God.
We should instead humble ourselves to extend patience and compassion to others as we hope God will show patience and mercy to us.
1 Samuel 16:7 – The Lord Looks at the Heart
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'” (1 Samuel 16:7)
In the Old Testament account of David’s anointing as the next king of Israel, God makes it clear to Samuel that He judges by a different standard than humans. While people judge by external appearances, God sees our inner motives and the true state of our hearts.
This same truth applies when we make assumptions and judgments about others based only on superficial external factors.
The wise approach is to follow the Lord’s example by suspending judgments and showing graciousness to others, leaving final assessments to God. As 1 Corinthians 4:5 reminds us, the Lord will bring to light what is hidden and will expose the intentions of our hearts.
This should make us cautious about judging others since only God can render a perfect verdict.
How to Avoid Judging and Assuming
Remember We Cannot Know Hearts
As humans, we often make assumptions and judgments about others based on limited information. However, the Bible cautions us against this. Proverbs 21:2 says “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.” Only God truly knows a person’s motivations and inner thoughts.
We see the external actions, but God sees the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
Rather than judge, we are called to extend grace. Jesus told us to “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). We all stumble in many ways (James 3:2), so we should humbly examine our own shortcomings before condemning others. “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant?
To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand” (Romans 14:4).
Give Others the Benefit of the Doubt
When we encounter behaviors that rub us the wrong way, we should try to give others the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they are having a bad day or facing personal struggles we know nothing about. We’ve all been short or impatient with others when we were tired or stressed.
Let’s offer the grace we hope to receive (Luke 6:37).
The Bible says “love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). Rather than judge, good practice is to believe the best about others until proven definitively otherwise. As Paul wrote, “Love hopes all things.”
This protects us from unfair judgments and promotes compassion.
Focus on Your Own Shortcomings
The best way to avoid judging others is to focus on our own flaws and need for grace. Jesus said, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3).
We all have planks and specks that need removal through repentance and spiritual growth.
Regular self-evaluation keeps us humble and reminds us not to judge. Some ways to identify areas for improvement include prayerful Bible study, journaling, input from trusted Christian friends, and listening to constructive criticism with an open heart.
We can then work on cultivating spiritual fruits like patience and kindness (Galatians 5:22-23). As James said, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom” (James 3:13).
Focusing on living biblically helps us avoid focusing on others’ perceived faults.
Assuming Leads to Condemnation, not Grace
Romans 2:1-4 – God’s Kindness Leads to Repentance
In Romans 2:1-4, Paul warns believers against passing judgment and assuming the worst about others. As people of faith, we can often be quick to condemn those who believe or behave differently than we do. However, we forget our own flaws and need for grace.
Paul reminds us that it is actually God’s kindness and patience that leads people to repentance. When we assume the worst or jump to conclusions, we fail to model God’s mercy and openness.
According to a 2019 Barna study, 61% of practicing Christians agree that harsh judgment drives people away from the faith. Extending grace as God does allows room for understanding. As verse 4 states, we should be mindful that it is “God’s kindness” that leads to change, not condemnation.
John 8:2-11 – Jesus Shows Grace and Forgiveness
The powerful story in John 8 of the woman caught in adultery reminds us how damaging assumptions can be. The religious leaders use her as a trap for Jesus, assuming the worst of her as a tactic to test His teachings. However, He responds with compassion rather than condemnation.
Jesus models a graceful, non-judgmental posture that avoids assumptions.
When we assume, we put ourselves in a position over others which belongs rightfully to God alone (Luke 6:37). By offering forgiveness instead of judgment as Jesus exemplifies, we can point people to repentance and restored relationship with God.
Though we may be right about a wrong committed, only God sees the whole story and can pass fair judgment. We are called simply to forgive.
Luke 6:37 – Judge Not, Condemn Not
In Luke 6:37, Jesus strongly warns against judging or condemning others. When we judge and condemn, we elevate ourselves while putting down another person created in God’s image. We act as though our sins and mistakes are minor compared to theirs.
However, Jesus exhorts us to show the same mercy we wish to receive from God (Matthew 5:7). Human judgment is often flawed by limited perspectives. Assumptions lead to unfair criticism, but grace leads people to God. As Christfollowers, we must surrender judgment and avoid assumptions that condemn.
By doing so, we reflect His heart to the world.
Ask God for Wisdom and Discernment
James 1:5 – Ask God for Wisdom
James 1:5 encourages us that “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” God promises to provide wisdom to those who ask in faith. We all need more discernment and insight to understand people and situations.
Rather than relying on our limited human wisdom, we can ask the all-knowing God to guide our thoughts and decisions.
One reliable source notes that wisdom from God is available simply for the asking. God won’t find fault with us for not already having the answers. When faced with unclear circumstances, we’d do well to pause and sincerely ask God for clarity and wisdom before proceeding.
Just as a loving earthly parent desires to help their child, our Heavenly Father wishes to share His divine wisdom if we ask.
Philippians 1:9-10 – Love with Discernment
Philippians 1:9-10 reads: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.”
This passage connects abounding love with growing discernment. Rather than keeping the two separate, our capacity to love well is tied to discerning what really matters most. We need knowledge and depth of insight to understand people, relationships, and situations accurately so we can respond appropriately in love.
Asking God for discernment enables us to focus on what is most important and to act purely rather than being distracted and led astray. Discernment and love work hand in hand to build relationships, make good decisions, and walk in wisdom before God.
Proverbs 3:21-23 – Discretion Guards You
Solomon wrote in Proverbs 3:21-23, “My son, do not lose sight of these—keep sound wisdom and discretion, and they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble.”
Operating with discretion, or good judgment and principles, serves as protection for our lives. Rather than stumbling through issues blindly, we can access life and safety by using the wisdom and discernment available to us from God.
He wants to guide our thoughts and steps, granting discernment about people and situations so we can avoid harm.
Just as wearing a necklace ornament beautifies, exercising godly discretion gracefully adorns our lives. By continually asking God for wisdom and discernment, He promises to supply what we need to walk uprightly and navigate challenges wisely.
In summary, the Bible clearly tells us not to judge or assume things about others, as only God knows their hearts. We are called to show grace, forgiveness, and discernment. When in doubt, we should give others the benefit of the doubt and focus on our own shortcomings and need for God’s mercy.
By being quick to listen, slow to speak, and avoiding assumptions, we can honor God and build loving relationships. Our judgments should aim to discern, not condemn. When we feel tempted to judge, we can pray for wisdom and grace to see others as God sees them.