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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

On Judgment

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5)

In my view a key responsibility of human beings is to use sound judgment—or discernment. We must make choices so therefore must judge people and issues. A friend of mine once said that he was influenced by Dale Carnegie who said that like it or not we judge others—and they will judge us—by how we look, what we say, and how we say it. I think this is absolutely true however we may like to deny it. Of course the heart of the observer always matters. I could observe that another person is black (or whatever) so therefore conclude I am vastly superior to him. This judging as a vehicle of self-righteousness I think is what Jesus was driving at in his plea that we not judge others. I don't think he was asking that we not use judgment or discernment when done with a sense of respect and equality—a sense that as humans we share vulnerabilities to the same pitfalls—and that the greatest danger is not realizing this but concluding that we are somehow impervious to dogged human vulnerabilities. The attribution of motives to others is simply something that no one—not even the actor himself regarding himself—can accurately do for no one can CAT scan motives with any reliability. It shows arrogance (and perhaps some psychological projection) to pretend that it is even possible.

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