What is so Wrong with Judging?
God Wants you in heaven
We make judgments constantly in our life. Without making judgments we would be walking around acting senselessly all day. Some of us are given more wisdom and knowledge than others and can make better judgments, but we all must make judgments to function in the world. We might then ask ourselves, “Why then is it so wrong to judge?” Well, there are good judgments and then there are bad judgments. Many of us are very confused which is which. Sadly, some of us from our pride, will even declare, “stop judging me” or “don’t judge them” when our sins are brought into the light or we feel we or others are being wrongfully judged.
Some will suffer so greatly from pride and will believe nobody is allowed to see right from wrong, recognize sin from love, or help guide others away from their transgresses, thinking that is offensive and wrongful judging. Oh, how our pride blinds us. Of course everyone is called to help guide others towards Eternal Life. Neglecting doing that is a great crime in and of itself. However, there is a good way to do that and a wrong way too. On top of that, there are many underlining intentions as to why we would want to point out another’s sin, and much of the time our intentions aren’t truly for the love of our neighbor and are driven from self-love (pride). We need to learn the vast differences between good judgement and bad judgement in order to make correct–non-sinful–choices in all of our day to day judgments me make.
That is what makes the Bible verse “stop judging, that you may not be judged” (Matthew 7:1) so confusing since all day long we judge right from wrong, good from bad, what to do or not do. Until we understand our role in life as a Christian, when, how and what we should be judging, what is good judgement and bad judgement, we will live confused as to what we are supposed to do.
Sound, Wrong and Rash Judgments
When God tells us to “stop judging,” He is telling us to stop declaring we know for sure what are the intentions of ones heart. We can’t read the heart or soul of anyone. We can’t even read our own intentions properly. Therefore, we certainly can’t read another correctly. But, that doesn’t mean we aren’t to try. However, we must understand we very well can be quite wrong, especially if we error and make rash judgments before gaining enough information to make a sound judgement. Let me explain.
There are three different kinds of judgments sound, wrong and rash. And out of the three, only rash judgments are sinful. For example: If we are walking alone in a dark parking lot, and we glance behind us and see a big fierce looking man approaching us very quickly with a rod in his hand, are we not to judge that man? If we don’t, we would be a fool. God gave us an intellect to use it. Not to walk around saying, “don’t judge, that you won’t be judged” and ignore a potentially dangerous situation; that is not logical. That isn’t what God meant when He said “don’t judge.” Regardless of what we want to do, most of us, from our human instincts will quickly begin to judge that man up and down developing fear of a man we don’t even know. Are we sinning? Of course not. We are allowed to use our best judgement in any situation, based on the information we have or can get, to make the best sound logical decision we can make. That is what is called sound judgement….not rash judgement. We hopefully make sound judgments all day long, from little things to great decisions. The problem is, much of the time, we don’t really think before making a decision and make poor judgments because we didn’t seek all of the knowledge/information that was available to us or we make decisions outside of God’s will (lacking prayer), which are all called rash judgments and they are sinful.
But with this situation, anyone, with emotions and a sense of fear, would be scared of a large angry man, with a could be weapon in his hand if he was fast approaching us from behind. We know there is evil out there. Most of us would probably run to our car and drive away fast out of great fear that we are about to be mugged or assaulted. And that isn’t an unfounded fear based on nothing; that fear is real and good, which most certainly isn’t sinful. Judging that man in that particular situation is just fine. Assaults happen and the situation we were in appeared it might result in such an event. But look carefully at the words I chose to use. I said “might.” Once we run home and tell others that, for sure, were going to be assaulted in the parking lot. That is where the sin comes in. We don’t know for sure what the intentions of that man were. The situation appeared scary but perhaps it wasn’t at all…unless of course the man runs up to our car and starts beating it with the rod, but until then we simply don’t know. But even if he starts beating our car, we still don’t know WHY he is doing this evil act. We can’t read his intentions of his heart. The judgments we are allowed to make have its limits. It is when we break them that they become sinful.
But if after we flee the possible danger and then look back and see that livid man, run up to the car that was parked in front of us, fall to the ground and begin to take the rod–which is a tie iron–and start to remove a flat tire, now based on the new information we have, our judgment of the situation changes. We can see he was probably upset because he had to change his flat tire or for some other reason. And no crime was likely to take place. Some of us might be upset at ourselves and say, “Boy did I wrongly judge that man.” Sure, we did, but it wasn’t rash. Rash judgments (coming to conclusions without gaining all the information we can) are sins, not wrong judgments. Our judgment was the best we could make with the information we had available at the time. There is no crime against God for that. We are allowed to be wrong.
Judging Other’s Intentions
We can see examples of others making sound judgments of people’s character in the Word. Like when Mary told Joseph she was pregnant by God, Joseph didn’t believe her. From the information Joseph had, he judged that Mary was most likely lying and decided the best choice for him and Mary was for him to dismiss her quietly (cf. Matthew 1:19). Joseph chose to not believe Mary since her explanation of why she was pregnant appeared not possible and even though Joseph’s judgement of her was wrong, his judgement wasn’t sinful in any way. He made the best judgement he could with the information he had. We can see Joseph’s proven good character when he was put under this great test. Instead of being greatly offended and infuriated at his betroth’s apparent great betrayal of him, he was loving and compassionate and “unwilling to expose her to public disgrace” (Matthew 1:19). He clearly showed he was a true man of love who truly forgives and loves those who lie and betray him. The charity of his heart was evident and real as proven by his actions. God didn’t allow Joseph to remain in wrong judgement of Mary for long and then after new evidence was made apparent, he took wonderful care of his wife and the Son of God.
We need to live our life modeled after Joseph’s example. When someone does something to us that is apparently quite sinful like lie/betray us we need to respond like Joseph with honesty and love. We need to slow down and not respond to our sinful emotions, if we don’t have the grace of Joseph to immediately respond with love, and pray if we feel upset/angered so we don’t react outside of kindness. Our lack of discipline and self-control to not respond to feelings or emotions is what causes bounds of, not only sins in our thoughts, but sins in our actions. Before we respond and make a final decision of someones guilt, we need to look carefully at all of the evidence around us so we don’t make a rash judgement. If we “jump to conclusions” without looking at all of the evidence available, then it doesn’t matter if we are right or wrong with our judgement, we have made a rash judgement and that is sinful. The guilt can even seem obvious to us at first, but if we still don’t stop, and look at all possible explanations first (under the time we have allotted to make a choice) before we declare someone a lair who has betrayed us, then we are sinning against God and our neighbor, and have rashly judging them.
If after our initial judgement of a situation and our further examination of the evidence, we can make a sound judgement (conclusion) and then believe we were (most likely) lied to and betrayed. However, we can’t ever be “certain” that we are right when judging the intentions of one’s heart. We can’t truly know, even if all of the evidence proves someones guilt, there could be things we just don’t see, such as strange miracles like with Joseph and Mary. Therefore, like with Joseph, if new evidence comes along, and proves we were wrong, we must apologize and make right our wrongs the best we can. But being wrong isn’t sinful if we were sound in our decision making.
Respond To Sin–Guide the Sinner to God
Some people get caught into the devil’s trap as we say, “Oh, I can’t judge him” and then we allow others to sin against us and others, and we choose to stay blind to great atrocities that are happening right before our eyes. We, as Christians, are allowed to see sin…we should know what is love and what isn’t. We are not caring for someone by allowing them to sin, if we can do something to help guide them away. God calls us to take actions and help others away from their sins–not ignore them pretending like we can’t see or justify their sins as acceptable and watch them harm others or die from their blindness.
“He should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:20).
What a joy it is if God could use us to save a soul from death! Wow! But it isn’t easy, especially if God calls us to use our words to guide others to Life. The person we are trying to save, if we tell them their sin, much of the time won’t see their sins or want to see their sin, and will claim we are “judging” them and become angry with us. This is a very common response as people want to cover their guilt. This saving of souls isn’t easy work and needs to be approached with care. But if we love others, we have to do something.
If we have a lot of time to help someone away from their sins, we can be more subtle, but most of the time, time isn’t what we have. Then we need to do what the disciples have done with proclaiming the Word that saves by clearly stating where they have gone wrong giving them proof, then to calm their pride saying words of understanding, and then giving them more proof and showing them the way to change. This is exactly what the apostle Peter did to inform the Jews of their great error so they could repent and change:
“You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. The Author of Life you put to death, but God raised Him from the dead; of this we are witnesses. And by faith in His name, this [crippled] man, whom you see and know, His name has made strong, and the faith that comes through it has given him this perfect health, in the presence of all of you. Now I know, brothers, that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did; but God has thus brought to fulfillment what He had announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away” (Acts 3:14-19).
Now, if God does call us to this huge task of actually speaking the Words of everlasting life please don’t go around looking for others sins; frankly we should focus our time on only seeing the good in others and looking past others imperfections and praying for them. If God went around focusing on all of our sins, He would be so enraged with us and probably banish us to the fires to Hell as we deserve. But no, God in His mercy, focuses on our potential, the good we are doing…not our sins. And boy does He know them…but He chooses to not dwell on them and instead focuses on helping us to understand the Way more perfectly and guiding us away from just a simple sin or two at a time in order to bring us just a little closer to the Light. We need to do the same.
But when we do see sin, not because we are looking but because we can’t help but see it, we need to help. The more God enlightens us to our sins, the more easily it will be to see sin in others because we either are still suffering from the same misery ourselves or have over come it, but because we have the grace to “see” more sins, we can more easily “see” them in others too. Therefore, if we can see what appears to be sin, we need to help guide that souls away from their sinful ways in our prayers, or actions and even sometimes by our words but only if God’s wills.
We need to be very careful with this, because if we haven’t learned what sins are yet, from not allowing God to open up our eyes nor successfully removing much of our misery, we will think we “see” sin, but from our still blinding misery, we won’t know right from wrong. I know this sounds crazy because we think seeing sin is effortless, and some of the time it is, but unless we have overcome much blindness, we simply won’t understand true sin–like we need to. We will be rashly judging much of the time and quite wrong.
There really aren’t words I can adequately use to describe what blinding confidence in one’s abilities to see sin is. Therefore, since the Word says we need to remove the plank from our eyes first, trust it. Before we guide others away from their sin, especially since we can’t read someone’s soul, we need to be very sure we are seeing an actual sin and pray and pray for guidance especially if we still suffer greatly from not being able to amend our own lives. Always remember, it is best to speak with our actions and prayers…and offer words if necessary, if it is God’s will, especially if we still haven’t learned how to amend our ways.
To make sure we aren’t enabling others to sin like with our spouse, children, politicians, etc. and helping to lead them to their doom, we need to look into our lives to see who’s sins we are justifying, pretending like they don’t exist, so we can claim “I can’t judge him” and turn a blind eye. Or are we making excuses for their unloving behavior trying to twist it into something good so they won’t feel any guilt or because we don’t want to offend them and keep them happy. Truly if we allow the devil to deceive us, we can convince ourselves anyone’s great acts against love are good…from our misguided love. Of course, we won’t know why someone is sinning and perhaps we are wrong, but either way, we are called to stop atrocities, not turn a blind eye to them, that is if we want others to have Eternal Life.
We need to go into the whole world, with love for souls, and proclaim the Gospel. God has us living together in community, not to entertain us, not for us to make others happy, but for us to love, guide and help each other towards Eternal Life. Serving God might be very entertaining and bring happiness, but our whole purpose in life is guide others to Heaven. I don’t mean we are to be a pest and badger someone over and over again trying to force them to see with our words. We can’t force others to see. Speak little, if they don’t have the grace, pray and sacrifice for them a lot. If the ones we are trying to help have the grace to understand, they will see, that is if we don’t speak so veiled that they won’t have a chance to see. When we do speak, only if someone wants us to continue to guide them to life with our words (likes our counseling) then we continue if no sin is involved, but many times especially in our family, they will build up resentment if we continue to talk when it isn’t wanted. We aren’t helping them if we continue. Say the truth once, twice and if it isn’t received well…now it the time to be silent and pray, fast, sacrifice, give alms (money), suffer and do works of mercy for their souls. Sure it is so very hard to watch someone right in our house hold sin and sin walking right to the path of doom, but that is what we must do. We can’t force someone to change. God didn’t force us to change. Fortunately, God’s grace from our prayers and sacrifices most certainly will help transform them with patience and perseverance in our acts of love. If God wants us to speak again, He will let us know.
Lets follow the example the Word gives us. We must preach in thought, word and deed and not ignore sin. God preached. The apostles preached and we must preach too. We can’t completely ignore horrid acts against love that destroy families and lives of countless people. We are called to do something…speak, pray, and act, always looking for the correct action of true love so we can help save someone’s soul from the destruction of unrepentant unchanged sin.
No Charity at All
The real problem with why judging someone is so wrong, is that much of the time, if not most of the time, there is no “good” intention or charity (love) at all of any kind being done. And that is where the sin after sin against our neighbor comes in. There are bounds and bounds of rash, very hurtful, judgments we make over and over again. We are actually looking for error in our neighbor. Why? If someone says something to us and we are looking for the malice…not the good in our neighbor ignoring their imperfections. And we can’t even see correctly. We are so impure and perverted in our thinking, not knowing right from wrong…we couldn’t judge correctly even if we had to. This is especially prevalent if we are suffering from unforgiveness towards others or have great pride in ourselves. We assume countless things from the words and actions of others, things that we shouldn’t even be paying attention to. We are so blind from our own pride, we can’t correctly see ourselves, our spouse or family members or anyone around us. We don’t really even know what sin is, but we think we do.
“Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1).
We need to stop looking at why and what others are doing and focus on ourselves and our faults or why and what we are doing to love one another. We are called to not be self-concerned when someone has mistreated us and only focus our life to love others…especially those who mistreat us. We are to pray for them. Why are we even pondering the wrongs of our neighbor or why they are doing what they do? Is it truly out of love for them, to help them according to God’s will? If we just stopped for a moment and honestly asked ourselves, “Why are we doing or thinking something” we would see the truth in our actions. If we simply looked at our angry complaining responses to life’s trials, we would see. Are we really living to love someone else or love ourselves; to give love or protect our pride; to rashly judge or to care? With honesty, we would see so many horrible sins against our neighbor: rashly judging, gossiping, lies, bashing, making fun of, demeaning their character, plotting schemes against them, demanding respect, jealousies, etc. Sadly, like most sins of pride, we are completely unaware of our great lack of love we have for one another because of our blinding pride. It is this pride we suffer from that keeps us from understanding and making good judgments and encourages us to make rash judgments and then we wind up falsely judging our neighbor, claiming they have sinned, when from our sin, we don’t even know what sin is. Truly, we should be loving others, guiding them to Life but we are harming them instead.
“Turn away your eyes and thoughts from the sight of others, that you may the more attentively consider yourself [and your sinfulness]. Examine into your own acts, and judge yourself without indulgence” (St. Vincent Ferrer).
For example: Lets say, we see someone who appears to act upset with us. What do we do? Do we truly pray for them to send them God’s love letting go of any concern about ourselves? Is our heart seeking to help and comfort them by sending them our love in our thoughts, words and deeds? Offering up whatever mistreatment we might have received for grace to be sent to their soul. To make sure we aren’t guilty of causing injury to another from our sin, do we looking into ourselves to see if we did in fact sin against them to make right our wrong out of love for them? Probably, not. Honestly, how well do we “bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:28)?
Depending upon our sinful personalities we suffer from, from a lack of grace, most of us respond with some form of judging and sin when someone seems to be disgruntled or we feel we have been poorly treated. If some seems angry with us or has appeared to have done us wrong, most of us will either become angry and offended, thinking we have a right to be unhappy with someone if they are upset with us or do us wrong since we think we deserve to be treated well, from our pride. Sadly, most don’t think a thought about the other but are completely self focused during any conflict. Many will worry and try to figure out why our offender is upset with us because we can’t stand to have someone not like us or treat us badly, from our pride (self-love). Perhaps we will become depressed thinking we need everyone to be happy with us, as we look to do things to make them happy–not to love and comfort them for their benefit–but so they will stop being angry with us and love us, from our pride. Many will try to figure out why someone is upset or go to someone else for the “scoop,” because we think we need to know everything, from our pride. Others will feel embarrassed thinking we are at fault, and run through our minds looking for our error, not to correct our wrongs, but to re-live the event and what we think we did wrong, wishing we could change things so we wouldn’t be embarrassed, from our pride. Some when we notice our mistake that caused someone to become upset, will become overly friendly to the one we offended to hopefully make up for our sin–not to truly love them–but so we won’t be seen as a sinner, from our pride. Maybe we will try to prove ourselves right, not so our offender can understand us so to not stay in anger, but because we can’t stand to have someone think we are wrong, from our pride. Or we could give the one who offended us the silent treatment and treat them even worse because we like revenge and to show our power, from our pride. Maybe to make ourselves feel better and liked, we go to those who do like and support us and gossip about the disgruntled person, bashing them claiming how terribly we were treated to make ourselves feel better so to gain pity from our friends, from our pride. These are just a few of our more common judgmental/sinful responses we have when conflict occurs, instead of living the Word of love.
“All of these rash judgement and all these interpretations [of one’s intentions] only come from a person who has a secret pride, who does not know himself…We should never amuse ourselves by examining his [someone elses] conduct” (St. Jean-Marie Baptiste Vianney).
As I have shown, we clearly have an issue with pride when we judge. We look to run from the cross of being treated poorly and seek any way we can gain pleasure and build ourselves up from our self-love. That isn’t the way to true self-esteem but pride. Most of the time we don’t even know why or if someone is angry at us but we have all sorts of judgments and sinful responses to someone’s supposed behavior, not love. Only if we invoke God’s mercy (help) can we remove sinful judging from our lives as it has riddled our daily responses to ordinary life circumstances. We must learn how to not judge for our own personal gain, but only on the rarest occasions to love others, seeking for God to use us to help our neighbor towards salvation. And this example is only one of a billion examples I could give on how we constantly rashly judge which leads to so many sins. If we only looked into our honest intentions as to why we do what we do, we would see a whole gamut of reasons why we judge and the sins that follow, and how it isn’t driven from any kind of charity. We remove God’s will in most of our judgments and respond to emotions that are lacking grace instead.
“I cannot do anything on my own; I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just, because I do not seek my own will but the will of the one who sent me” (John 5:30).
Read Our Soul
Even though we can’t read our own souls, we should daily look into our choices, to the best of our understanding, to see if we are doing all for the love of God. And if we can train ourselves well, we should even check our intentions before we do anything, trying to be united with God in everything, so we can sincerely do our best to only love others. However, even if our desire is to love God through loving others seems sincere, since the devil is very good at deceiving us and we are so good at covering our sins–even sin we want to see, much of the time we don’t. Truly only God knows for certain the true intentions of the heart.
more coming soon.