JUDGING others is usually more destructive than constructive. Needless criticism can hurt friendships, damage marriages, even hinder progress at work. Talking about, or even focusing thought on, the faults of others does not promote good will, good humor, or good times. We're often sorry later for unkind words, perhaps especially when our judgment of someone else is proved wrong. Time given to judging others would be better spent correcting our own faults! When you stop to think about it, the feeling that judging others is generally a bad idea has strong roots in Christianity. It is found in the words of the Master, Christ Jesus: ``Judge not, that ye be not judged.... And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?... Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.''1
Christ Jesus not only gave this advice, he lived it. Whether the situation was moral, ethical, or physical, he refrained from mere judging and instead brought healing. Obviously, we don't want to ignore or sanction evil, but we need to love people. And we need to recognize that we could improve in a few areas ourselves! Such honest self-knowledge can free us from being harshly judgmental.
For example, when an adulteress, caught in the act, was brought to Christ Jesus for judgment,2 he said to her accusers that the person free of sin should be the first to punish her. Becoming conscious of their own sins, her accusers walked away, one by one. Jesus was sinless, but his judgment brought healing. He said, ``Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.''
On another occasion, too, Jesus refused to judge as those around him were judging. Zacchaeus,3 a tax collector believed to have got rich by misusing his position, eagerly tried to see Jesus as he passed by. Jesus didn't scorn or avoid him but made a point of saying he would stay with Zacchaeus that day. The people grumbled about Jesus' being the guest of such a sinful person. But Zacchaeus must have felt the forgiving love of Christ, for he publicly announced that he would give half of his wealth to the poor and would repay four times the amount to anyone he had cheated. Being judgmental didn't change Zacchaeus, but Christ's love certainly did.
Don't we sometimes want to punish people as moral sinners, or shun them as ethical sinners, or blame people for sickness by saying, ``It's his own fault because he...'' or ``It's because her parents...''?
Jesus showed us a much better, higher way of viewing sin and sickness. He showed us that sin and sickness are not part of the real, spiritual man, who is made to manifest God. By acknowledging the inherent goodness of God's children, he healed men and women of the sin and sickness that seemed so much a part of them -- and for which others harshly judged them.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, also saw how important it is to heal, rather than condemn. She wrote to Christian Science lecturers: ``You may condemn evil in the abstract without harming any one or your own moral sense, but condemn persons seldom, if ever. Improve every opportunity to correct sin through your own perfectness.''4
As we learn to condemn evil, but not persons, instead of judging others, we'll help them overcome the sin and sickness from which we all want freedom.
1Matthew 7:1, 3, 5. 2See John 8:3-11. 3See Luke 19:1-10. 4The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 249.