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Mercy, Judgement and Justice

“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 have not committed, and we get on our moral high horse and condemn others because they commit a specific kind of sin that we have not.” (Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou, St. John Climacus)

“If we allow ourselves to belittle others, either because of their appearance or because of their state in life, we dismiss the truth that God can, in His divine providence, transform anyone into a saint. The person who seems to have succumbed to a worldly life…could be in the process of coming into an awareness of God. Our judging her or shunning her could hamper this process. Human weakness can be changed by divine power. We must recognize this truth so that we never condemn or judge another.” (Abbot Tryphon)

“When we judge ourselves honestly, with God’s help, we naturally turn to Him and confess our sins as an effort to restore our spiritual health. God is faithful to forgive and to heal (1 Jn 1:9), and in the process we find that we are not condemned. Our relationships with fellow Christians also benefit, for self-examination and self-judgment break down the barriers between us.” (Dynamis 7/27/2015)

“All so called punishment in Christianity is meant to be therapeutic with the hopes of rehabilitation for the sinner. Not understanding this and Christ’s example is what can lead to our extreme attitudes of punitive condemnation for our own sense of satisfaction…We need to put on Christ and avoid this harsh condemning and mindless condoning in our thoughts and action.Neither is loving. Neither is healing. If we condemn someone where is the love of Christ in that? If we condone their wrong behavior or areas where they fall short aren’t we just helping them to perpetuate it and being enablers?” (Sacramental Living Podcast)

“To show mercy to those who anger and hate us is to truly be a follower of the Lord, the Merciful One Himself. It is not an easy task, and without the Lord’s help, it is impossible….We have the capacity within each one of us to shower forth love and mercy, but we sometimes withhold these from our brothers and sisters. It isn’t that we don’t have the potential to be Christlike, it’s that we chose not to be.” (Marianne C. Sailus)

"No one has a right to mercy who cannot himself show mercy." (Ven. Louis de Granada)

“People have tried all kinds of ways to please God, but God has made his requirements clear: Do what is just and right, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.” (Life Application Study Bible, Micah 6:8)

“Grace and mercy are two divine energies by which we know God; through them, love for our Father in heaven is ignited within us.” (Dynamis 11/3/2013)

“…no service is as pleasing to God as mercy. This is because mercy is most similar to God Himself who is merciful.” (St. Gregory the Theologian)

“When the Lord says,"Judge not, that you be not judged,” He does not mean that we should live as if there is neither sin nor wrongdoing in the world…Not every attitude, choice, and lifestyle is"of God.” We do not accept relative morality; there is right and wrong…May we rely on the Holy Spirit guide us into all truth…The Lord teaches us, in every situation involving right and wrong, that we are to pray incessantly. (Dynamis 6/21/2014)

“We don’t know what is going on in the minds of those who appear to be self-centered. Only God knows, and we must leave that judgment to Him alone.” (Marianne C. Sailus)

“Judgment and mercy go hand in hand.” (Life Application Study Bible, Joel 2:31-32)

“For some people, it is easier to hold on to a grudge that had its genesis decades ago than to remember the kindness of someone a few days ago.” (Marianne Sailus)

"Jesus knows perfectly well that we must make evaluations. Out of devotion to Him, we seek to purify the eyes of our heart and refrain from taking the moral inventories of other people. However, this state of life, which necessarily requires us to focus on our own faults, does not mean that we are to ignore wrongdoing and blithely pass over evil.” (Dynamis 6/21/2014)

“In love, compassion and mercy, the church sometimes exercises something called economia. It is a term used which authorizes exceptions to the rule without considering the exception a precedent or abrogating the rule. In most cases the justification for the application of"economia" is the avoidance of greater harm in the case of the strict application of the rule.” (Sacramental Living II, Rev. Dr. Stanley S. Harakas)

“God cannot be limited in the economia of His Grace.” (Fr. George Morelli)

“With God, values are never relative: right is right and sin is wrong. God judges rightly and mercifully, quickly forgiving the penitent.” (Dynamis 3/19/2015)

“Christ told Peter that before the rooster crowed three times that coming morning, Peter would deny Him three times. All four Gospels record Peter’s boast and denials… In John 21, the resurrected Jesus appears to His Disciples one morning on the Shores of Galilee and they have breakfast. After they had eaten, Christ asks Peter three times if Peter loves Him…In this example of Christ and Peter, we get a glimpse of God’s perfect and loving accounting. Peter’s three denials require a threefold cure. Yet this cure was administered in love as evidenced by Christ’s condescension…to Peter’s weakness and accepting whatever love Peter was able to offer. Here we see God’s perfect mercy and perfect justice.” (Sacramental Living Blog)

“What is God’s glory? It is his character, His nature, His way of relating to His creatures...God’s glory is revealed in His mercy, grace, compassion, faithfulness, forgiveness, and justice.” (Life Application Study Bible, Exodus 34:6-7)

"Mercy, detached from Justice, grows unmerciful. That is the important paradox. As there are plants which will flourish only in mountain soil, so it appears that Mercy will flower only when it grows in the crannies of the rock of Justice..." (C. S. Lewis)

"...mercy takes precedence over regulations, ordinances, and ritualistic observances… Judgment and mercy are bound together, but by God's grace,"mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13).” (Orthodox Study Bible, Matthew 12:6-8, Isaiah 63:7-10)

“God is merciful even when He judges.” (Life Application Bible, Isaiah 6:9-13)

“Often we want God to show mercy to us and justice to everyone else.” (Life Application Bible, Psalm 6:1-3)

"The merciful person is he who gives to others what he has himself received from God, whether it be money, or food, or strength, a helpful word, a prayer, or anything else that he has through which he can express his compassion for those in need. At the same time he considers himself a debtor, since he has received more than he is asked to give." (St. Peter of Damascus)

“Jesus advised those who are without sin to cast the first stone (John 8:7). To hold back judgment of others requires great humility. It requires us to recognize our own sinfulness and woundedness before we rush to judge another. So often, in psychological terms, what we hate in another person is what we hate in ourselves...Humility is the act of remembering our earthiness and limitations. Preoccupation with the sins of others blinds us to our own failings. When we claim the wholeness of our experience we become more compassionate toward others.” (Thomas Merton)

“When we turn our attention outward, toward the actions and behavior of others, then we evade what lies in our own heart…The great Healer of the passions prescribes turning inward, toward the condition of our own heart. There we find the source of our disorder.” (Dynamis 10/7/2014)"It’s more important to judge your own response to God than to analyze others’ responses.” (Life Application Study Bible, Matthew 13:40-43)

“…we are to pay attention to ourselves regarding our relationship to God. We should never condemn or judge others either outwardly or in our thought…It is not our place to do so because only God truly knows their heart…(Sacramental Living)

“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)

“Let us approach the moral decisions we must make every day by following the Lord Jesus’ admonition to"remove the plank from your own eye” (Mt 7:5). This is the essential starting point for every Christian faced with the temptation to judge. Our Lord focuses specific attention on the eye – how we see others – and on our own moral perception. He urges us to invest our primary energy in correcting our own words and deeds.” (Dynamis 6/21/2014)

"...we see that when we try to be judge and jury over another, we cease to see our own faults...because we fall short of what God expects of us, I must treat others with compassion, just as we want to be treated in a compassionate manner, and not expect others to conform to our ideas and norms." (Marianne C. Sailus)

“The chief standard that we must heed when making moral evaluations is not to usurp the Lord Jesus’ place as judge…There is much in the hearts of others, both good and bad, that remains unknown to us, but God knows the hearts of all men.” (Dynamis 6/21/2014)

"Mercy is the way to get people back on track. Mercy is not an excuse to misbehave; it’s the application of divine medicine that enables us to recover our moral and spiritual health.” (Hieromonk Maximos)

"Mercy precludes human judgment.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Luke 6:37-38)

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