Whenever I approach the subject of judging others I hesitate because it feels like I am passing judgment — which I am not supposed to do. Right? A quandary, perhaps?
If I say there are a lot of people who do nothing but complain, have I not already passed judgment?
If someone says the manner in which another congregation worships is wrong, has not judgment already been passed?
If a politician is criticized for saying or doing something with which a particular group of persons disagrees, has not judgment already been passed?
Who are we to pass judgment on anyone?
None of us has the right to be judgmental toward another person. As Jesus pointed out, we — each and every one of us — have our own faults. And unless or until we recognize those faults, seek forgiveness for them, and do away with them, we will not have the right to be judgmental.
However, we may be discerning.
If a person invites us or encourages us to participate in an activity that is detrimental in some fashion, we need to discern if it is appropriate for us to participate.
If it is discerned to be inappropriate, the answer is “No, I won’t take part.”
To say, “You are a heartless so-and-so for even considering doing this,” is to pass judgment. A person’s character has been criticized, not their action or intent.
Let us always be careful to not malign another person with judgmental statements, because as Jesus reminds us, we, too, are far from perfect.
The Rev. Mark Broadhead is Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview’s pastor.