We live in a society that puts the “mental” in “judgmental.”
We’re crazy about the pleasure of judging other people. We watch denizens of Survivor vote each other off of the island; cheer or jeer the decisions made about the future careers of contestants on American Idol and The Apprentice; analyze the scheming and plotting affecting the artificially-induced love lives of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.
We love to watch the bad guys get theirs on Law and Order, N.C.I.S., 24 and any number of other television shows with increasingly shorter names and smaller concepts. If we can’t see them caught and judged in a courtroom, we’re happy to see Jack Bauer blow them away short of trial date, because, after all, they’re bad guys and we’re only going to spend 24 hours messing with them.
We hail and worship pundits who say the most outrageous things about elected officials and political candidates (as long as we agree with them) because we’ve already judged their targets as “bad guys.” We’ll permit vested interests with enough money to air any kind of advertisement against a candidate – even if it is wholly unfounded in fact or truth – because that’s just part of the political process in which we judge the character and capabilities of those whom we will elect and later villify. We’ll even repeat the unsubstantiated claims in our conversations and on our blogs and in our tweets and Facebook posts.
We lap up any religious controversy – whether an outright sin or a simple difference of interpretation – and eagerly seize the opportunity to self-righteously condemn the “sinner” involved to the hellfire he or she deserves, clucking and shaking our heads all the way to the gallows for that poor soul’s reptuation.
And here is what Jesus has to say about what we do:
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” ~ Matthew 7:1-2
Which is a pretty frightening thought, when you lend it a few moments and a few brain cells.
It means I’m going to be judged by God in the same way that I judge other people. (We know Jesus is talking about God here because this method of judgment is fair, God is ultimately fair, and people are not fair. Especially when they judge each other.)
Why should we not judge others? (We enjoy it so much!)
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to 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, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” ~ Matthew 7:3-5
We put the “mental” in “judgmental” because we are wholly unqualified to judge others. That’s because we are not even qualified to judge ourselves. We are not fair, objective, just, merciful or righteous. We do not see matters objectively; we see them subjectively, from our own viewpoints and not from outside of our own eyes, heads, prejudices, circumstances, environment, culture, experiences, and era. From the viewpoint of eternity, God can.
“Judge not lest ye be judged yourselves” is simply the application of the Golden Rule to the field of jurisprudence: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31
A few verses later, Luke records how Jesus expanded on the thought: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” ~ Luke 6:37
If there was ever a guilty pleasure we need to sacrifice on the altar of becoming more like Christ, giving up our “right” to judge would be a top priority.
We don’t need to worry that if we don’t handle judgment, then justice will never take place and the guilty will escape what is due them:
This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares. ~ Romans 2:16
Assured of that, we can get back to the business of using our God-given power of judgment for the purpose He intended. We’ll be able to answer Jesus’ question about our petty squabbles and disagreements (as well as our self-centered sins):
“Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?” ~ Luke 12:57
And He will give us all the help we need in order to do so:
“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment:
‘For who has known the mind of the Lord
that he may instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.” ~ 1 Corinthians 2:14-16
Then our passion for judging won’t head in a direction God doesn’t intend – a direction we are unqualified to take it.
A direction that will eventually drive us – and the others around us – completely mental.
Strike a blow for sanity.
Ask for His help.