Judgmentalism is an ugly reality in our world. It is everywhere and it hurts everyone. Its poisonous fingers infect human relationships so much that it causes us to put away something that is good and just, namely judgement. In fact, judgmentalism has caused humans to abuse and misuse one of the most well known sayings of Jesus. In Matthew 7:1-5, Jesus tells us not to judge others or we will be judged. He then tells us to remove the giant board from our own eye so that we can go and remove the spec that is in our brother’s eye. Notice that? The passage is actually a command for us to judge, and not a command to refrain from judgement. Unfortunately, the hypocrisy and judgmentalism of some people has caused many to use this saying of Jesus as a justification for never pointing out error, and never critiquing with needed truth.
Judgmentalism is partly the problem. Judgmentalism is a kind of hypocrisy. When you are judgmental, you think of yourself more highly than you ought. You think of others as lower than you because you believe that you haven’t committed the same sins they have. It is a state of pride and a lack of compassion. It is the sin of the Sadducees and the Pharisees. Judgement, however, is simply holding a person to a standard that everyone agrees to be good. Judgment is choosing better over worse, or making a distinction between right and wrong. Think about it. It doesn’t make sense that Jesus would ask us not to judge. Judgment, good judgment, is necessary in life. How could you choose one religion over another without judgment? How could you choose a good spouse? How could you choose a good social circle? Those choices require that you judge one potential mate as better than another, or one group of friends as better than another.
Read the words of Jesus carefully in that passage. What he is commanding is for you to judge yourself. If you don’t, he warns, then you are going to be judged too. He is teaching that when you harshly judge your neighbor for sin while you are committing that sin yourself, then you will experience the same judgment with the same intensity. For instance, judging your friend for his alcoholism and his inability to pay his bills because of it while you are having a difficulty paying yours due to a gambling addiction is a form of this hypocrisy. You are both committing the sin of gluttony. You will be judged by your friend, and probably his friends, and certainly by God.
Jesus tells us to straighten up our own life, then once we can see clearly, we are commanded to compassionately help our brother straighten up his. Judging and fixing ourselves first can give us a great deal of compassion for that task.