Do not judge!

(J. R. Miller, "Judging Others" 1894)

"Do not judge—or you too will be judged."
Matthew 7:1

It is better to have eyes for beauty—than for blemish. It is better to be able to see the roses—than the thorns. It is better to have learned to look for things to commend in others—than for things to condemn. Of course, other people have faults—and we are not blind to them. But then, we have faults of our own—and this should make us charitable!

We have a divine teaching on the subject. Our Lord Jesus said, "Do not judge—or you too will be judged." We need to understand just what the words mean. We cannot help judging others. We ought to be able to read character, and to know whether men are good or bad. As we watch men's acts—we cannot help forming opinions about them. The holier we grow, and the more like Christ—the keener will our moral judgments be. We are not bidden to shut our eyes—and to be blind to people's faults and sins.

What, then, do our Lord's words mean? It is uncharitable judgment against which He warns us. We are not to look for the evil things in others. We are not to see others through the warped glasses of prejudice and unkindly feeling. We are not to arrogate to ourselves the function of judging—as if others were answerable to us! We are to avoid a critical or censorious spirit. Nothing is said against speaking of the good in those we see and know; it is uncharitable judging and speaking, which Jesus condemns.

One reason why judging is wrong—is because it is putting one's self in God's place. He is the only Judge, with whom every human soul has to do. Judgment is not ours—but God's. "There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?" James 4:12. In condemning and censuring others—we are thrusting ourselves into God's place, taking His scepter into our hands, and presuming to exercise one of His sole prerogatives!

Another reason for this command—is that we cannot judge others justly and fairly. We have not sufficient knowledge of them. Paul says: "Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts." 1 Corinthians 4:5. Our judgments cannot be anything but faulty, partial and superficial.