Judge not, and you shall not be judged: condemn not, and you shall not be condemned: forgive, and you shall be forgiven:
Of all the faults into which people are liable to fall, that of judging others is one of the most common. Pride, or envy, or a tinge of ill-nature, or an amalgamation of all three, causes them to arraign before the bar of their private judgment the actions, even the motives and thoughts of others. Many evils result from this. Even if we do not consider the habit as rather an ugly deformation of an otherwise lovable disposition, we may still see that it heralds into the soul some undesirable companions.
1. It engenders self-esteem and self-satisfaction in some. If a man always looks outside of himself, at the blots which mar the characters which he contemplates, he will forget what virtues he lacks himself. He will not be conscious of the beam that is in his own eye, yet he will imagine that he is quite capable of pulling out the mote in his brother's eye. He will, so to speak, put the large end of the contemplative telescope to his mental eye when he looks at his own heart; the small end when investigating his neighbour's. Consequently, there will be an inverse ratio in the investigation. His neighbour's motes will appear standing out in unjust relief; his own beams — the withered, shrivelled, sapless stanchion of self-love — the yawning chasm of avarice — the covert jungle of hypocrisy — the ungenial rock of pride — will become apparently very small, and in the distant prospect will have almost a charm about them.
2. Further, this spirit of judging others has the evil effect of providing untenable excuses for faults committed. People who are guilty of little sins, little failings, little excesses, are in danger of falling into this kind of error. They are, perhaps, aware of their shortcomings. They may even go so far as to acknowledge that they have them. But, in place of grappling with them and seeking to subdue them, they make excuses for them. And this is because they judge others. They compare themselves with others, and the comparison is prejudicial in their own favour.
3. And this judging of others prevents s healthy spirit of self-examination, and consequently of self-improvement. The man who continually pries into other people's affairs must neglect his own. So the man who looks out constantly with a critical eye on the motives of others, must be unaware of those which actuate himself. There is a means, indeed, by which we may benefit ourselves by a contemplation of others. We have it summed up in the saying of an old Roman writer — "Look into men's lives, as into looking-glasses." That is, judge them not, but seek to see yourself reflected in them. See them in their trials and temptations, see them in crises of thought and action, and consider how you would have fared in similar circumstances. This will help you to solve the problem of life, "Know thyself." It will also teach you to appreciate the Christian attributes of charity and forbearance. Conclusion: Man's heart, as it weighs and measures its judgment, is sometimes harsh and hard, and the picture of others which it conjures up is often a dark one. But behold arising in the soul the dayspring of the knowledge of the Most High; behold, awakening to a knowledge of self, the soul to which Christ shall give His light, and you will see that light reflected on to the contemplated scene. There may be shades, but there are bright, sunny spots, too, and even the shades take a fairer colour from their proximity. Seen with the eye, which faith, and hope, and love in Christ inspire, all hardness and harshness, all unkindly cynicism, all uncongenial sneers, all puerile ill-nature, all sordid envy, will gradually disappear. And as the beams in the one eye are thus plucked out, the motes in the other eye will be plucked out too. The one character will have its effect on the other. Christ's love is too great, too powerful, too immense, too vigorous, to loiter. It will push all before it. It will reflect itself on and on, like the dancing of sunbeams from wave to wave; and the motes and the mists and the fogs and the clouds — whatever they be — will disperse, even at His reflected light, making an entrance to prepare the soul for the full glory of His own presence. So may man's soul be a meet temple for the mighty Spirit. So may something of heaven's warmth be felt on earth.
(C. E. Drought, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: