Judge not.

I sincerely apologize for not posting last week. I was on vacation, and did not have access to a computer or a smartphone to post anything. I tend to travel light on vacation, especially when it comes to technology. That way, I can actually get my mind off of the cares of the world, and enjoy myself.

While on vacation, I decided to reread The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. If you haven’t read it before, it is a beautifully written book about the punishment affixed to a young woman, Hester Prynne, who commits adultery. The novel itself could be used as a case study on several different issues, but I will only discuss one. As the title describes, the chief punishment ruled down upon Hester is to wear a scarlet embroidered “A” on her chest for the rest of her life, serving as a reminder to herself and the community of the nature of her sin. This “A” for “adultery” was to be worn at all times, and was even to be worn while standing on a stump in front of the entire town square for three whole hours. You can sense the magnitude of the ignominy Hester must have felt: hundreds of eyes, each pair more penetrating than the next, staring at her as the raw personification of sin. It is miraculous that Hester summons the courage to carry on, raise her newly born daughter,  and seek for peace.

This situation, to me, vividly displays the searing brand that unrighteous judgment burns upon the hearts of those who have done wrong. For Hester, it was physically manifested on her chest, but for those in today’s world, it lies chiefly in our hearts and in our minds. When others cast unrighteous judgment upon us, we feel vulnerable, weak, and helpless. We begin to label ourselves, and cast a false veil of sin over our whole identity.

What do I mean by unrighteous judgment? I believe that there is a difference between righteous and unrighteous judgment. Righteous judgment comes from stewardship. Parents make righteous judgments to protect their children, for example. This is perfectly fine for those of us on earth. In the New Testament, we read in John 7:24 that we are to “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment”. Another translation of that verse goes “Judge not according to your traditions“. Whether it be according to appearance or traditions, unrighteous judgment is characterized by a labeling of an individual’s heart. I believe that no one knows the thoughts and intents of one’s heart save Jesus Christ. Hester’s forced ignominy as she stood in front of the town square is highly analogous to the woman taken in adultery in the Book of John. In this poignant account, angry men throw an adulterer at the feet of Jesus, and remind him that Moses and the law commands that those who commit adultery should be stoned. When asked what should be done with her, Christ responds “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her”. This merciful response demonstrates that only the Savior, who atoned for all of mankind, and who knows each of us perfectly, is able to judge our hearts. Christ’s unique role as the one who atoned for us all allows him to make judgments on our hearts and our eternal standing. Only He knows exactly where we stand when it comes to personal worthiness and our ability to become something greater than we are. This type of judgment is off limits to mortals, who like Hester, are imperfect.

Christ further teaches this principle by admonishing us to cast out the beam of our own eye when we find a mote in someone else’s eye. We are all imperfect. We all have sinned. We all need divine mercy. We are all at varying degrees of righteousness. I believe that we are not to judge unrighteously, and label a person’s standing before God.

I believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Redeemer. I believe that with His help we can become clean and pure, and that instead of casting judgment upon those who have done wrong, we should seek to help them overcome those things that cause them pain.

What do you believe about judgment? What do you believe about Christ as it pertains to this topic? How can we avoid unrighteous judgment?


3 thoughts on “Judge not.

  1. There are several places in the scriptures that tell us that we must work out our own salvation before the Lord. I believe that this is true. I believe that Christ is the only person who knows the pain of our sins. Therefore, He is the only one who can judge us and the only one that we need to be accountable to. I believe that judging is really two seperate lessons, one in accountability and one in stewardship.

    I believe that in all things in life it is crucial to know who we are accountable to. Whether in a job, on a sports team, or in a family you must know who you are going to have to answer to. I personally have been the victim of what I consider unrighteous judgement very recently. Things were said about me that were incredibly hurtful. Things that had little basis in fact, and that were solely designed to hurt me. However, upon reflection it is comforting to know that I do not have to answer to the people who passed those judgements. If they had their way, I would be in a VERY different place than I am today. I believe that I have only one person to answer to, and that is my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is THE ultimate judge in my life and I am grateful for his mercy. I believe that we can handle all of the trials that God gives us if we simply remember who we will report to. During hard times I like to picture the face of the Savior, walking up to embrace me when we meet at judgement. He is kind, warm, forgiving. I am excited for the day that I can be accountable the Him and I will gladly face and accept His judgement.

    I also believe that we have a duty to learn what our stewardship is in this life. I will not attempt to try and outline what others stewardships are, because that would be a form of unrighteous judgement in and of itself. Rather I will just say that we each have a God-given stewardship in this life and I believe that we will be so much happier if we learn what that is, and then stick to it. Unrighteous judgement comes when we step outside our stewardship. When the unrighteous judgements that I spoke of earlier came my direction, I believe they came from people stepping way out of their respective stewardships. This causes problems. I believe we must LEARN what our stewardships are on this earth and then refrain from judging anywhere else.

    I believe that all the wrongs in the world will be righted. I believe that God will have justice for every sin committed. However, I do NOT believe that anyone will be held ACCOUNTABLE for anything outside of his or her STEWARDSHIP.

    ACCOUNTABILITY and STEWARDSHIP. That is what I believe.

  2. I admit I am at a loss to understand accountability and stewardship so I will comment on the ideas of judgment and sin. Seems to me those folks in the ‘A’ book all believed theirs was ‘righteous judgment’, alas. I observe but rarely judge because I can’t know what spiritual lessons that person is in need of learning. I think judgment blocks love unless conditioned by compassion. We see the shortcomings, the flaws, and certainly we see the probable results of poorly conceived thoughts, words or actions. The lower, or logical mind, by its very nature, makes judgments about almost everything. Initially, this sense of discrimination is how we distinguish right from wrong. The way I see the mind is: lower, fact-oriented mind, the abstract mind, and by far the most important to us at this time: the middle or heart principle of mind (or the ‘reasonable’ relationship between logic and abstraction). This has many names, but by whatever name we call it, the middle principle is the soul on the mental plane. This is the ‘place’ we try to see the world from. When we orient ourselves as this middle principle of mind, then we may still judge, but we never condemn. We understand

    Leonardo da Vinci had an interesting comment on judgment: “Every now and then—go away. Have a little relaxation. For, when you come back to your work, your judgment will be surer, since to remain constantly at work will cause you to lose the power of judgment….Go some distance away, because then the work appears smaller—and more of it can be taken in at a glance, and a lack of harmony or proportion is more readily seen.” Too often we are too close to judge correctly. Or do our judgments merely reflect our prejudices. In learning to trust our intuition (which stimulates it), doubt may be present but does not negate intuitive recognition of truth. Such intuitive trust leads in time to direct knowledge or direct perception of truth, resulting in enhanced ability to judge truth—first in ourselves—then in others. Do we first accurately and compassionately judge ourselves?

    I wonder sometimes if the notion of sin (in ourselves or others) distracts us from our real work. I find it helpful to understand that a ‘sin’ is anything that causes us to turn our back or move away from the Path, anything that causes us to stray from the Christ, from the Spirit of God. A sin is anything that separates us from our awareness of or interest in God. It’s equally useful to understand that sins are either Sins of Commission, or Sins of Omission. Sins of doing or sins of not doing. Both must be repented but the techniques are not the same. Sins of Commission are issues that would prevent one from being Temple ready. More common are Sins of Omission. The things we don’t do that we could or should. Relationships left unmended. Things left undone through inattention, boredom, preoccupation, laziness, meanness, smallness, busyness, and so on. We can’t hide anything from ourselves or from God, but temporarily we can look but refuse to see the spiritual needs of those around us. We know God is Love but, equally, ‘God is Intelligence’.

    Repentance is a spiritual technique for staying on or actively returning to the Path back to the Father’s House. We all know the direction because it’s a familiar return back to where we came from. Repentance, essentially, is a technique of right relationships—with God and the Christ, with the Path, with the planet and with each other. It’s a spiritual technique. When we think or do something inappropriate to our goals or aspirations, we are never expelled or pushed out of the fold by outer forces. When we ‘sin’ or turn our back on the Path, we expel ourselves from the Presence of the Lord by our actions (our inactions) and our reactions. Our repentance immediately turns us around and points us back to the path, back into the center of our own goodness and Light. The effect of repentance is a bit like that of a compass that points to true north. When we repent—sincerely repent—we are spiritually spun around to face the Path. It always works. But then it’s up to each of us to take the first next step in darkness, trusting that we now walk in the right direction. Repentance is the most efficient way to correct our progress in this world.

What do you believe?

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