“Why do you pass judgement on your brother or sister?” (Romans 14:10)
It’s so easy to judge, and it’s because we do it all the time. We need to. It’s important. It’s a good thing.
“To judge” simply means to form an opinion or conclusion about something. Without our ability to judge, we would not be able to make any kind of important decision; we would not be able to practice discernment. God is often portrayed as a judge, and that’s a good thing – God judged that the world was good; God judged that you are good and worth being in relationship with, worthy of God’s loving Incarnation. Maybe our ability to judge is even part of being made in the Divine image.
I think where we can sometimes get in trouble is when we ‘pass judgement’. I think that this is when we believe that we have discerned all there is to know about a person, and found them lacking; when we believe that we have written down all there is to know and then closed the book.
Our judgement has teeth – it has consequences, for us and for others.
Jesus hung out with a lot of people upon whom judgement had been passed, who suffered because of that judgement – sex workers, tax collectors, people who were sick, possessed, or otherwise “unclean.” I wonder what it would mean to judge a bit more like Jesus.
We can still use our God-given judgement with people. It can be important in our functioning, in protecting ourselves, and even in loving others more fully.
However, in our judgement, we remember that we are not God, that judgement – that all-encompassing and final judgement – belongs to God alone. Thank heavens for that, because I firmly believe that God is a far more loving, merciful, gracious, understanding and forgiving judge than I could ever be.
Thanks be to God!