OPEN THOUGHT: WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE JUDGMENTAL?


“Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matt 7:1).

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation,” (Matt. 23:14).

Having a discussion with a person one day, a comment was made that a decision made by a group of people had not been handled properly, thereby causing the results to be contrary to the purpose intended. Further, the same group had made a similar decision earlier, and if it did not work positively the first time, why would they expect repeating the process would yield a different result? The response from the “person” was, that the comment was judgmental, because it was not known what was in the minds of the group who made the decision. The answer to that statement was, “I am not responding to what was in their minds, I am responding to the consequences of their decision.” As you have probably surmised, the writer made the comment, and later pondered if in fact, her assessment of the decision was judgmental. Thus…the two verses above–verses the Bible says were made by Jesus.

WHAT IS THE MEANING OF “JUDGE?”

Webster defines “judge” as “the ability to decide or give an opinion.”

Merriam-Webster says judge means “to form an opinion about through careful weighing of evidence and testing.”

Macmillian Thesausus concludes that judge means “to form an opinion about something after considering all the facts and details.”

From the above definitions, one could conclude that both people were correct in their assessment. The “person” based his opinion on an economic book that had been read, coupled with the economist’s years of experience, whereas the writer based her opinion on the negative impact the decision made on the economy, and the large amount of people who suffered because it. However, the writer reflected on the discussion and because “getting it spiritually right” was of great importance to her, concluded both viewpoints had to be viewed from a spiritual perspective.

Jesus said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Interpretation of that statement has traditionally meant , “If you condemn a deed made by someone, you are judging them and…you have no right to do that.” If that were the case, the second verse would indicate Jesus was passing judgment on the Pharisees when he called them hypocrites. As the “Judge not, lest ye be judged” statement was pondered, it became clear that for too long, that statement had been taken out of context. A closer look at the biblical chapter before it, reveals it follows a series of dos and don’ts as Jesus was teaching mankind how to live righteously. Within that lesson, he gave guidelines on how to pray, avoid hypocrisy, give to the poor with right motives, do things not to be seen of the world, but because of a pure heart, learn what it meant to forgive, stop placing money and power over goodness and mercy, resist glorifying the physical body and gain understanding of the spiritual body, develop faith and hope during human tribulations, and stop seeking material things over spiritual things. He did not see those behaviors in action by mankind and “called them out” for not doing so. Was he too being judgmental?

The writer does not think so. Evil has to be uncovered and destroyed. Those of us who stand by quietly and let it happen, can be construed as sanctioning it. “Putting one’s head in the sand” and pretending things are not happening, is hypocritical. Ignoring evil, is not dealing with it. A simplistic example of “judge ye not, lest ye be judged,” is to steal someone’s dog, and condemn them or someone else for stealing a cat. Make sure you have not stolen a dog before you condemn another for stealing a cat! It’s not about seeing a wrong, calling it out, and trying to find a better way of doing it. That is made very clear with the second verse, which admonishes the Pharisees for stealing a poor widow’s house and covering it up with pretense, using righteous words to deceive others. Jesus “called them out” for doing so! What was the act condemned by the writer?

It was speaking out against using tax payers’ money to bail out large corporations (once again) and doing nothing when previously, some of the same corporations had used the funds to invest in themselves, lay-off workers and give huge salaries to corporate heads. What made it so disconcerting to bail them out was, it was they who had placed the entire country in a steep recession with their deceptive behaviors. This year’s funding was an attempt to stimulate the economy thus, funds should have been given to small and middle-sized businesses that supply the majority of jobs in the country. Many large banks and corporations have become multi-billionaires from the first bail-out and needed no assistance, why would a government seeking to fulfill the need of the country, give money to them? To condone or make excuses for such actions, seems hypocritical…what do you think?

DID GUILT MOTIVATE THE WRITER?

What motivated the writer to do further pondering of the accusation of judgment? Was it guilt? Was it to prove the other person wrong? Initially, those were part of the motivation, but with years of honest, soul-searching, the writer knew that in order to gain divine wisdom, her motives had to be purified. In so doing, she was led to find answers to a quote that had plagued her consciousness for years. Debates with individuals had often ended with the biblical words of Jesus thrown at her as a defense against her desire to correct a wrong, and…she had had no positive response. It is not a matter of winning an argument, it’s a matter of righting a wrong. When facing an illness, it must be identified, uncovered and seen as not the true nature of man before it can be destroyed. Pretending it does not exist, ignoring it, or making excuses for its existence, will not help one reach the level of consciousness to destroy it. During this human journey to the acquisition of grace and love, self-examination, self-analysis and self-love must be looked at, motives examined and righteous indignation overcome. Therefore, recognizing when the actions of others are not represented with grace and love and exposing them, is also part of the human journey. We demonstrate…what we believe.