Mercy, Judgement and Justice

October 17, 2019

“The Lord Himself said: “Be merciful, just as your heavenly Father also is merciful” [Luke 6: 36]. He did not say: “Fast as your heavenly Father fasts,” neither did He say: “Give away your possessions as your heavenly Father is without possessions”; but he did say: “Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful.” This is because this virtue—above all—emulates God and is a characteristic of Him…God’s judgment is based in mercy…” (Orthodox Study Bible, Romans 9:22-24, Abba Dorotheos)


“We never know what someone is working through and where they are on their spiritual journey. We make judgments based on what we see, but they are only skin-deep judgments. If only we knew people’s hearts, their struggles, we would pray instead of entertaining the judgmental “whys” that come to us—that come to me most of all…One of the quickest ways to lose grace is to judge your fellow human being…” (Constantina R. Palmer)


“One must be kind, meek, and merciful in one’s relationships with people…Our relationship toward our fellow men defines our relationship toward God.” (Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica)


“We need to be gentle and merciful with ourselves as well. Sometimes we judge ourselves too harshly, focusing on our flaws, forgetting we are all works in progress…we don’t turn to God because we view God through this harsh and incorrect mindset and believe He is just as harsh and unloving as us.” (Sacramental Living)


“It may be that God sometimes allows us to be hurt so that in the healing that follows He can help us become healers for others. In his second letter to the Christians of Corinth, Saint Paul reminds us that God, our merciful Father, helps us in all our sorrows so that we are able to comfort others using the same help that we ourselves have received from God.” (Father Andrew Demotses)


And if you see your neighbor sinning, do not take only his sin into consideration. Reflect on all he has done—or continues to do— rightly. It is often the case—when your examination goes through every detail, and you do not judge based on partial information— that you will discover that he is better than you. Indeed, not even God examines human beings based on partial information.” (St. Basil the Great)


“Our Lord reminds us that He came into the world not to judge sinners, but to save the world (John 12:48). As we recall, Jesus Himself hesitates to judge, for when He saw the adulterous woman who was about to be stoned to death, He came to her defense and protection and said, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her, and they all left” (John 8:7). Then Jesus turned to the woman and said, “Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more” (John 8:11). Remember that only God has the authority to judge, yet He hesitates to judge (John 5: 30).” (Bishop John of Amorion)


“We will be judged with our own level of judgment because we are guilty of the very things we judge in others (Rom 2:1)...To pass judgment is to assume God's authority.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Matthew 7:2)


“In His kindness, God holds back his judgment, giving people time to turn from their sin. It is easy to mistake God’s patience for approval of the wrong way we are living...Unfortunately, we are more likely to be amazed at God’s patience with others than humbled at His patience with us.” (Life Application Study Bible, Romans 2:4)


“One of our weaknesses is that we’re far more concerned with being right than being righteous. We become like the Pharisees whenever we focus on issues rather than people. Judgmentalism creeps in whenever we deal with issues as if they were black and white, rather than flesh-and-blood humans in need of redemption.” (Margaret Feinberg)


“God's judgement is nothing else than our coming into contact with truth and light. ...Our hearts will be opened by the penetrating light of God, and what is in these hearts will be revealed. If in those hearts there is love for God, those hearts will rejoice seeing God's light. If, on the contrary, there is hatred for God in those hearts, these men will suffer by receiving on their opened hearts this penetrating light of truth which they detested all their life.” (Alexander Kalomiros)


“We will be judged with our own level of judgment because we are guilty of the very things we judge in others (Rom 2:1)...To pass judgment is to assume God's authority.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Matthew 7:2)


“Judgment is a very messy business, something that must remain in the hands of a good God (and Him alone).” (Father Stephen Freeman)


“What the Lord and the apostles mean by not judging is that we should refrain from impugning the motives of other Christians on the basis of words and actions that differ from our own. We veer into the sins of judging, conceit, and contentiousness when we decide that what others think, say, or do arises from “the hidden things of darkness” and reveals the “counsels of [their] hearts” (1 Cor 4:5).” (Dynamis 7/10/2015)


“Judging, in the spiritual life, is the business of God alone. All judging, including spiritual judgment, concerns disposition. When an examination is conducted and all the evidence is weighed, the judge issues a disposition concerning the penitent standing before him. Such disposition details judgment; it is not the same as an on-course correction. Ultimately, Christ will pass judgment and hand down our disposition as His stewards.” (Dynamis 9/5/2015)


“[The] Church is a hospital for the soul and a living, therapeutic organism that can make us whole and bring healing of body and soul. It is not a legalistic or juridical institution wherein we are expected to plead our case before an angry judge, trying to convince him we are worthy of mercy. The Church is not about rules or ritual, but about participating in the spiritual therapy intended to cure us of the sickness of sin and to restore us to spiritual wholeness and health.” (Abbot Tryphon)


“Before judging the behavior of fellow believers, it is important to hear them out. The Holy Spirit may have something important to teach us through them…Be very careful about judging someone in bad circumstances. You have no idea what storms God may be asking them to go through." (Life Application Study Bible, Acts 11:2-18, Bruce Van Horn)


"It ordinarily happens that God permits those who judge others, to fall into the same or even greater faults." (St. Vincent Ferrer)


“Compassion for others and sympathy for their failings will bring the heart closer to the heart of God than any form of judging…Criticism of others is thus an oblique form of selfcommendation. We think we make the picture hang straight on our wall by telling our neighbors that all his pictures are crooked.” (St. Hesychius the Presbyter, Fulton J. Sheen)


 “Jesus’ statement, “Do not judge others,” is against the kind of hypocritical, judgmental attitude that tears others down in order to build oneself up. It is not a blanket statement to overlook wrong behavior of others but a call to be discerning rather than negative.”  (Life Application Study Bible, Matthew 7:1-5)


“...Christians tend to be more condemning of physical sins (especially sexual sins) than they are of spiritual sins. When it comes to pride, we have a tendency to shrug our shoulders and say, “Everyone is proud. No one is perfect.” But we should never be so dismissive of pride.”

(Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou)


“To pass judgment is to usurp shamelessly a prerogative of God because only someone without sin has any right to pass judgment. Thus with these simple words the Lord shamed those who were ready to stone an adulteress: “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first” (John 8:7). Note that He did not say, “he who has never committed adultery,” but “he who is without sin.” There may be sins we