I was wondering of whether I should respond to someone about judging others, whether it is right or wrong, about the standards for judgement and who decides on those standards. By mere fact that I’m posting this is also evidence that I have judged or have made a judgement. I realise that we cannot escape life without making judgement but there’s a difference between making a judgement for what is in the best interest for myself and others and judging another person by their ations. But when is it okay to judge? Who decides when it is okay to judge? And how does the action of judging affect the one judging and the one judged? As a Christian I’ve been taught on many occasions that I should never judge another person as it is only God who can judge and should judge and he will judge. The problem is that often I feel that God takes his time in judging people and it makes me uncomfortable when I compare their actions to my life and lifestyle. Another reason why I judge is that it makes me feel like a better person or at least better than those whom I judge. But what are the reasons why we should not judge others? Here are some of my thoughts on the matter:
1. We have no right
We all have a past and somewhere in that past is some stain, some evidence of that past that can be held against us. Somewhere in our past is something we’ve said or done to ourselves or another that will forever be etched in our our lives and minds and that of others. Yes, God does forgive and forget but that doesn’t mean that the incident never happened. The guilt of that act has been removed from us, we no longer should feel guilty of what has happened if we sought forgiveness of God, others and ourselves but the consequences of that act remain. Therefore what has happened and the consequences of what happened still remain but the guilt and judgement that comes from what happened is gone or should be gone, it remains only because we remind ourselves of it. Judging others is a way we turn a blind eye to every act that we have done and pretend that it never happened, that’s called hypocrisy. We cannot judge because we will be guilty of some judgement too.
2. We do not know
We do not know what is happening in the lives of other people, their contexts and circumstances. People do things for various reasons and we do not know the motivation for the act neither the motive of the act. When we place our judgement on others we are actually saying that we don’t care or give a damn of their respective situations and that no situation is good enough to justify anything. Yes we have a choice when we act but we never act in isolation of what is happening around us and we must acknowledge that our circumstances do play a huge role in the decisions that we make. Nobody is exempt from that reality. So like the saying goes before you judge anyone, try walking in their shoes for some time then see how you would respond. I wonder how many people will then judge you?
3. We interpret
We all interpret life and we all interpret it differently. Everything in life is interpreted by us on a daily basis and each person has a different way of interpreting the same event. No two people interpret the same events exactly alike. So too when it comes to the Bible. We all interpret the Bible and we all interpret it differently. No one person interprets the Bible the same and comes to the same conclusions or opinions on what is right and wrong. Who has the monopoly on what is right and what is wrong anyway? We may say we interpret the Bible responsibly but the problem is that we arrive at our conclusions which has been filtered many things? The way we interpret the Bible is dependent on our gender, our nationality, our backgrounds, our language, the moments that have shaped our lives, our educational background and the list goes on and on. One example, is drinking alcohol wrong? Is it a sin? I wonder how many different answers I will get to that one and who gets to decide on the correct answer?
4. God alone has a standard for judgement
God alone, whether you believe in him or not has the final standard for judgement. We cannot pass any standard of judgement because we are not qualified to do that as we have already failed in being qualified by our past actions and thoughts, and that we don’t know everything or even most things and that we have subjective interpretive processes. God can pass judgement because he alone decides and knows what is right and what is wrong. He alone knows the circumstances and contexts of people. He alone knows the motives of peoples hearts. He alone knows all things. So when we pass judgement by deciding on the standards of judgement we remove that right from God and make it our own. Now i don’t know how you feel about this but I do not want any human being as God and deciding on the standards for judgement because there would be no grace and hope for me.
“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. 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. Do not give to dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”