Judging Others

5.0.2As I read the papers and view posts/comments/articles on the internet, one accusation has always bothered me. That accusation is; “Christians are always quick to judge others” and “Only God has the right to Judge” etc. And unfortunately, there are so many who are either too ignorant or too blind to the truth that they blindly accept this and get in lock-step with the group making the accusations.

I would like to take this occasion to enlighten the UN-enlightened.
First: The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines ‘Judge” as;
1judge
verb \ˈjəj\
: to form an opinion about (something or someone) after careful thought
: to regard (someone) as either good or bad
law : to make an official decision about (a legal case)

Now since everyone on the earth is guilty of the first two (who hasn’t formed an opinion on some subject and who doesn’t make choices based on what they think is good or bad) and since the comment almost always refers to religious statements/actions, the final definition is the one we will discuss.

Let’s take the example of a Judge sitting in a court room and a policeman. When someone gets a ticket, or get arrested for committing a crime, the policeman is never accused of ‘judging’ them. He has simply shown them that they broke a law. He usually explains the law they broke and either gives them a summons to appear before the judge or takes them to the judge for more serious offenses. It is now up to the Judge to determine if the person is guilty and if found guilty, to pass sentence.

The same is true with God and his laws, and Christians who have been given the task of explaining those laws to everyone. “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” – Mark 16:15

Christians do not “judge” when they say something is sin. They are simply telling what God’s law states is sin.  It is our responsibility to warn those who are in violation of God’s law and explain the consequences of breaking that law. So to say that Christians are “judgmental” for calling an action a sin, shows an ignorance of Gods word.

Oh!, but you say, what about Matthew 7 were it says ” 1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”

Jesus speaks here of the overly critical judging of others. The judging of others is a very deep-seated tendency in our heart. The judging of things, or of teaching, is not forbidden, but encouraged— as we see, for instance, in 1 Corinthians 2: 15; 10: 15—but the judging of persons is forbidden. The church is called upon to judge those who are of it, in certain cases, as 1 Corinthians 5 and 6 show, but, apart from this, the judging of persons is a prerogative of the Lord. If, in spite of the Lord’s forbidding, we indulge in it, two penalties are sure to follow, as He indicates here. First, we ourselves shall come under judgment, and have measured to us just what we have meted to others. Second, we shall drift into hypocrisy. Directly we start judging others we become blind to our own defects. The small defect in our brother becomes magnified to us, all unconscious that we have a big defect of a nature to impair our spiritual eyesight. The most profitable form of judgment for each of us is self-judgment.

There are three great reasons why no man should judge another.

(i) We never know the whole facts or the whole person. Long ago Hillel the famous Rabbi said, “Do not judge a man until you yourself have come into his circumstances or situation.” No man knows the strength of another man’s temptations. The man with the placid and equable temperament knows nothing of the temptations of the man whose blood is afire and whose passions are on a hair-trigger. The man brought up in a good home and in Christian surroundings knows nothing of the temptation of the man brought up in a slum, or in a place where evil stalks abroad. The man blessed with fine parents knows nothing of the temptations of the man who has the load of a bad heredity upon his back. The fact is that if we realized what some people have to go through, so far from condemning them, we would be amazed that they have succeeded in being as good as they are.

No more do we know the whole person. In one set of circumstances a person may be unlovely and graceless; in another that same person may be a tower of strength and beauty. In one of his novels Mark Rutherford tells of a man who married for the second time. His wife had also been married before, and she had a daughter in her teens. The daughter seemed a sullen and unlovely creature, without a grain of attractiveness in her. The man could make nothing of her. Then, unexpectedly, the mother fell ill. At once the daughter was transformed. She became the perfect nurse, the embodiment of service and tireless devotion. Her sullenness was lit by a sudden radiance, and there appeared in her a person no one would ever have dreamed was there.

There is a kind of crystal called Labrador spar. At first sight it is dull and without lustre; but if it is turned round and round, and here and there, it will suddenly come into a position where the light strikes it in a certain way and it will sparkle with flashing beauty. People are like that. They may seem unlovely simply because we do not know the whole person. Everyone has something good in him or her. Our task is not to condemn, and to judge by, the superficial unloveliness, but to look for the underlying beauty. That is what we would have others do to us, and that is what we must do to them.

(ii) It is almost impossible for any man to be strictly impartial in his judgment. Again and again we are swayed by instinctive and unreasoning reactions to people.

It is told that sometimes, when the Greeks held a particularly important and difficult trial, they held it in the dark so that judge and jury would not even see the man on trial, and so would be influenced by nothing but the facts of the case.

Montaigne has a grim tale in one of his essays. There was a Persian judge who had given a biased verdict, and he had given it under the influence of bribery. When Cambysses, the king, discovered what had happened, he ordered the judge to be executed. Then he had the skin flayed from the dead body and preserved; and with the skin he covered the seat of the chair on which judges sat in judgment, that it might be a grim reminder to them never to allow prejudice to affect their verdicts.

Only a completely impartial person has a right to judge. It is not in human nature to be completely impartial. Only God can judge.

(iii) But it was Jesus who stated the supreme reason why we should not judge others. No man is good enough to judge any other man. Jesus drew a vivid picture of a man with a plank in his own eye trying to extract a speck of dust from someone else’s eye. The humor of the picture would raise a laugh which would drive the lesson home.

Only the faultless has a right to look for faults in others. No man has a right to criticize another man unless he is prepared at least to try to do the thing he criticizes better. Every Saturday the football fields are full of people who are violent critics, and who would yet make a pretty poor show if they themselves were to descend to the arena. Every association and every Church is full of people who are prepared to criticize from the body of the hall, or even from an arm-chair, but who would never even dream of taking office themselves. The world is full of people who claim the right to be extremely vocal in criticism and totally exempt from action.

No man has a right to criticize others unless he is prepared to venture himself in the same situation. No man is good enough to criticize his fellow-men.

We have quite enough to do to rectify our own lives without seeking censoriously to rectify the lives of others. We would do well to concentrate on our own faults, and to leave the faults of others to God.

 

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