“You, O man, are without excuse, every one of you who passes judgment. For by the standard by which you judge another you condemn yourself.” These words come from Paul’s letter to the Romans, and they very closely echo Our Savior’s own words in the beginning of the seventh chapter of the Gospel of Matthew: “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.”
These are, I do not doubt, some of the most favorite passages in the Bible among those who need to seriously rethink their life choices but are stubbornly refusing to do so. Am I judging? No; I’m stating a fact.
“Don’t judge me, man. It’s not very Christian.” Sounds both whiney and judgmental, doesn’t it?
Does Our Lord really command us not to use prudence? Does Our Lord really command that we look the other way when we see bad behavior? Christ in fact said that He did not come to judge the world, this is true. He also said immediately following that statement that there is one who will judge.
The simple fact is, we are all judged. The Four Last Things are these: death, judgment, heaven and hell. You will see three of them. Whether the third one is heaven or it is hell depends on the grace of God and on the judgments you make.
Our Lord commands that we condemn no one, and indeed we should not. We lack the perfect wisdom and perfect justice of God; we are in no way equipped to condemn a person. However, we are blessed with sufficient wisdom and justice to judge actions… to make prudential decisions as to whether a given action is right or it is wrong. And we certainly have the ability to set a standard to which those who want to be a part of society must adhere or risk being rejected by that society.
The Lord’s command not to judge is not a pass for bad behavior. Those who would make it such are the very people warned that by their stubbornness and impenitent hearts are storing up wrath for themselves on the day of judgment. Do not condemn your brothers and sisters, for we all are sinners. But do not allow their souls to be lost, either, by looking the other way and pretending not to see bad behavior.