Just Judgments

Matthew 7: 1-5
2 Kgs 17: 5-8, 13-15, 18 / Ps 60: 3-5, 12-13

Judge not, 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.
(Matthew 7:1-2)

Lord, give us a discerning heart
To settle any controversy;
From prejudice keep us apart,
And our judgments be ruled by mercy.

“Judge not, 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 plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, remove the plank out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5)

Reflection

We hear it often enough—“Do not judge a book by its cover.” It’s a common phrase that cautions us not to make rash conclusions about people or events without concrete evidence. Making judgments is an integral cognitive faculty that we use from the moment we wake up in the morning until the time we retire at night. We make hundreds of judgments to guide us in a variety of activities that we perform. Judging is a mental process by which we evaluate facts or experiences in order to reach a decision or opinion. God gave us free will, and with it the gifts of knowledge and discernment so that we can make the right decisions with regard to what is good, proper and true. With these gifts, He expects us to think and behave with acumen and good sense to keep ourselves on the right and straight path.

First of all, what Jesus meant was, we should “Stop judging by appearances, but judge justly” (John 7:24). We must take care because, being human, our scope of perception is usually limited to the externals, is often subjective, and may even be biased, hardly adequate to judge the character of others. It is almost impossible for us to make an impartial opinion. As a result of past experiences, we carry prejudices that color our judgment. For instance, we can never see the real person as God does. He alone has unlimited wisdom and insight to see the character flaws and malicious motives of men. Secondly, Jesus taught us to stop being judgmental, because too often we may have a greater flaw than the person we are judging. It would be better for us to focus on our own weaknesses, instead of being self-righteous and critical about moral issues. The third point against judging others is having the wrong intention. It was not out of vindictiveness, envy, or political expediency that our senators voted unanimously to convict and remove from his position the Chief Justice of our Supreme Court. It was simply to prove to the whole world that dishonesty has no place in the highest court of the land. St. Paul said, “Brothers, if a man is caught in some transgression, you who are spiritual should correct him in a gentle spirit, looking to yourself so that you also may not be tempted.” (Gal.6:1).

Jesus wants us to judge wisely for our own sake. He said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Mt.7:15). And if we must be discerning in following the right leaders, so we must use good judgment in shepherding others. St. James wrote: “Brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (Ja.5:19-20).

If we must be the judge of others for their faults or omissions, let us examine ourselves first, and see if we are living up to the standard of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who will be our Final Judge. He has left us all that we need in the Bible, and if we meditate on His Word regularly, there is no reason why we cannot judge others wisely, with love and mercy.

Lord God, in judging others, help us to ‘put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another… putting on love, which is the bond of perfection’ (Col. 3:12-14) so that we may receive the same. Amen.

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