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Passing Judgment

“…the command to “judge not” does not mean that Christians are not to make judgments about whether a behavior is right or wrong. We must distinguish between right and wrong. How can we be expected to do the right thing if we are not allowed to distinguish between right and wrong? “Judge not” means that we are not to condemn another person, since God alone is judge.” (Dr. Eugenia Scarvelis Constantinou)

“We should not judge others. If we see ourselves as we are, we will find it simply impossible to. Self-understanding yields mercy, empathy, tolerance, love of the other…‘We condemn others only because we shun knowing ourselves.’ Our deepening realization of our own sin coupled with our increasing experience of God’s mercy will fill us with compassion for others. We will begin to realize that no one is beyond redemption. We will rejoice in people’s small and great acts of kindness. We will cheer their successes. We will experience empathetic sorrow at their struggles and failings. We will not pretend to know or fully understand the intricacies of the internal and external factors in their hearts. We will fervently wish for them nothing but God’s abundant grace, blessing, and love. We will pray that they increasingly come to a conscious knowledge of that love.” (Peter Bouteneff, St Seraphim of Sarov)

“If we may not judge, how shall we help our erring brother? By turning our attention to the beam in our own eye; only then, after we have struggled to remove it, shall we understand how deep-seated are the causes of sin, how hard it is to fight, through what means it can be cured, how great the pity and sympathy deserved by the sinner; and these feelings of yours and your experience of the struggle with sin, will help to remove the moat from your brother’s eye—through sympathy, example, love. Judgment will fall away of itself.” (Fr. Alexander Yelchaninov)

“It is the nature of sin that it not only committed transgressions but excuses them. Humans have many ways of rationalizing, overlooking, and trivializing their sins even while they judge others who do the same things….Paul declares unequivocally, “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself” (Romans. 2:1)…We never know the hearts and souls of other people and cannot judge anyone else as though we were God. We must never even try to do that. The only true statements we can make about the state of someone’s soul are those that we make about ourselves. None of us knows our sins fully, but when we recognize that we have fallen short of the infinite goal of becoming like God in holiness, we can then confess our brokenness and call out for the Lord’s mercy as we take concrete steps to redirect our lives toward Him.” (Fr. Basil, Fr. Philip LeMasters)

“A temptation many of us struggle with is the temptation to judge others. Few transgressions are more strongly condemned in the New Testament. “Do not judge and you will not be judged” (Mt 7:1). Yet we are caught up in it before we know it. Moreover, it is not always easy to see what is so wrong about judging people; surely it is a basic life skill to be able to assess people and situations. But even with the most halting of footsteps in the silent land, we see that judging others really is not about our perceptions and assessments of others, but the way in which the jaws of our convictions lock so tightly around people that we actually think we know what life is like for them, what they really ought to do or think, as though we know their innermost hearts, as though we know what only God can know.” (Martin Laird)

“We are to preach and teach the message of divine judgment, then, not as an expression of God’s vindictive wrath, but as an expression of His saving love. Too often we pass judgment rather than proclaim it. Then the word of judgment degenerates into a word of condemnation. And more often than not, that condemnation expresses our own feelings, attitudes, anger and righteous indignation, rather than the true “wrath of God.” By preaching judgment upon another, rather than to another, we run the risk of bringing condemnation upon ourselves. To proclaim the Gospel faithfully requires that we preach not only God’s love and mercy, but also God’s righteous wrath, which is “revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness” (Rom 1:18). The crucial point is that we preach God’s wrath with love. As paradoxical as that may seem, it becomes possible when we center our proclamation about a truth transmitted to us by James the Just, the brother of our Lord. “Judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy,” he warns; “yet mercy triumphs over judgment!” (Jas 2:13).” (Fr. John Breck)

“This sinful habit [judgment], born of pride, feeds and grows on pride—and in turn feeds pride and makes it grow. Every time we pass judgment, our pride grows a bit more because of the accompanying feelings of self-importance and self-gratification.” (Fr. Jack Sparks)

“Here and now, each day and each hour, in hardening our hearts toward others and in failing to respond to the opportunities we are given of helping them, we are already passing judgment on ourselves.” (Metropolitan Kallistos Ware)

“Judging others while comparing ourselves favorably to them reveals self-serving hypocrisy and a lack of love that threaten our own salvation….We cannot judge our fellow human beings, since we are all made in the image and likeness of God. The theologian’s knowledge of the faith makes him or her more susceptible to this sin since it is all too easy to fall into the trap of rendering judgment on another. If we know better than most what is correct or not correct, we ought to unflinchingly apply the standard to ourselves.” (Dr. Eugenia Scarvelis Constantinou)

“…when something might be done with either good or bad motives, we should leave the judgment to God and not presume to judge the heart of someone else, which we do not see. But when it comes to things which obviously could not have been done with good and innocent intentions, it is not wrong if we pass judgment.” (St. Augustine)


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