What's Wrong With Judging Others, Part 2
In Part 1, we saw that judging others was inherently problematic because as humans we lack full knowledge of the person being judged, and we are not morally faultless ourselves. However, we were still left with the question of how we can address problems in the world, especially ones with people.
Let us assume that the person in question actually has some character flaw that needs to be fixed. If no such flaw really exists, then the judgment was mistaken, and we need to reconsider our powers of perception. If said flaw does exist, the question becomes: how should one go about attempting to help? The following is what Jesus had to say about judgment:
“Judge not, that you not be judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matt 7.1-5)
Most people who read this passage stop with verse 1. They read the part that says “Don’t judge” and don't bother finishing the section. Jesus’ commandment on judging is not simply to never judge; rather, He said not to be hypocritical. That does not mean we have to pretend that everything everyone does is OK; it means we need to make sure we are not guilty of the same thing.
Before accusing others, we need to take a look in the mirror.
We need to seriously examine ourselves first to make sure we don't do the same thing we see as wrong in others. This is not easy. Anyone who has ever seen or heard themselves on a recording before knows it is not fun. No one likes how they look or sound. Looking at yourself in a moral mirror, however, is much harder.
Nevertheless, Jesus’ command is to address our own faults before we try to address others’. Given the imperfection in all of us, actually doing this means that we will spend nearly all of our time working on our own problems. Fixing a problem such as a bad temper or talking about others behind their backs takes a long time to solve. In all likelihood, mastering a deficiency will take years.
Focusing on our own faults not only makes us better people, but it changes our attitudes.
If we actually make real changes in our own lives, the following conversations will look different. Instead of saying, “You’re wrong and you need to change,” we will be more like “I’ve walked that path, but there is a better way. Let me help you and walk through it with you.”
These may or may not be welcome words, but the attitude behind them is very different from one that carries the implication “I’m better than you.” These words say “I’ve been where you are, and I would like to help, if you will let me.”
Yes, people do wrong things. No, I don’t think we should ignore when others do wrong - in no small part because their actions affect all those around them. No action is entirely personal; everything we do affects others.
However, what we need to remember is that if we want to make a positive difference (instead of a negative one), we need to be free from the problem ourselves. Not only will this allow us to see clearly, but it will also make us much more empathetic to the person(s) we are trying to reach, which is good for everyone.