How Not to Judge

In last week’s Gospel, we heard “judge not, lest ye be judged”. This week’s readings follow a similar theme when Jesus says, “Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own? Jesus is telling us not to judge others faults but first and foremost work on our own issues. This raises an interesting question, how am I supposed to know the difference between right and wrong behavior if I’m not to judge? Well, the short answer is to judge carries with it a sense of condemnation, this we are called to avoid. However, we are called to discern truth, the difference between right and wrong, good and bad. This type of discernment can only truly be achieved by God’s gift of holy wisdom. A gift God gives to each of us and to the Catholic Church in matters of faith and morals.

Here’s my list of the top 4 reasons why Jesus asks us to judge not others:

  1. We’re not God, and no one except God is good enough to judge others because only God sees the whole truth, and only God can read the human heart. Only God has the ability, right, and authority to judge people.
  2. We do not see all the facts or circumstances or the power of the temptation which has led a person to do something wrong.
  3. We are often prejudiced in our judgment of others, and total fairness cannot be expected from us, especially when we judge those we have a history with, like those in our own families.
  4. We have no right to judge others because we have the same faults as the one we are judging and often in a greater degree (or as Jesus would say, how can we remove the splinter from someone else’s eye if we have a plank in ours?)

 We should leave all judgment to God, practice mercy and forgiveness, and pray for God’s grace to get rid of all forms of hypocrisy in our lives. As the old saying goes: “When you point one finger of accusation at another, three of your own fingers are pointing back at you.”

Far too often in our lives we tend to judge, gossip, or accuse others, because we’re afraid to look at our own shortcomings; afraid to do the hard work of growing in holiness which God call’s each of us to do. I’ll be the first to admit it takes great courage to give God total control of their lives, and yet if we don’t, how can God mold us into His very image and presence?

Jesus saw this in the hypocrisy of the religious leaders in his day when they ignored the serious matters and insisted others adhere to minor things. Likewise, if we would work on ourselves and allow God to remove the splinters in our own lives, we would have no time to judge and gossip about the faults and struggles of others. For Jesus, the ultimate success of an individual’s life depends on the good effect they have on the lives of others. Good people will produce good fruit; the uninformed, self-centered or misguided people will produce rotten fruit. The status of the fruit reveals the true nature of the tree.

Fortunately for us, God gives us the remedy to cure plank-eye (judging others). All we have to do is keep our thoughts on Jesus, speak the words of Jesus and let our actions be those of Jesus. Good thoughts will lead to good words and good words will lead to good actions. If we do this, then surely the splinter in our eye will never grow into a plank causing us to be blind.

Fr. Dave

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