Judgmentalism: One of the great sins in the Church
We are all prone to judge others whether we understand it is right or wrong. Many are acclaiming judging as a virtue but is it really?
Because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. – James 2:13
We all have been shown great mercy in our lives. God has shown great compassion and forgiveness towards us in not counting our sins against us. We were in a place were God was ready to punish us and cause us great harm in sending us to hell for eternity for our great sins. Yet he showed great mercy and love towards us, forgiving our sins in his Son. When we therefore show no mercy to others, especially believers, we sin greatly.
Warren Weirsbe says,
“The most miserable prison in the world is the prison we make for ourselves when we refuse to show mercy.”
Such a prison many believers are in not being able to show mercy to others but being a great benefiter of mercy from God. God came down from above as the compassionate one to forgive your sins, yet we cannot show compassion to the sins of another believer.
Judgmentalism is one of the great sins in the Church, as we are always faulty in the way we see others, never knowing someone's motives and heart (Jeremiah 17:9). When we learn to be full of mercy for others, we start to share the heart of Jesus Christ who did not judge but showed compassion to failing humanity.
Look into the eyes of Jesus Christ now and see his wounds where he was pierced for you, can you say to him that you cannot forgive another? Have mercy to another?
The Testimony Of The Desert Fathers
The Desert Fathers were those who sought the Lord in a life of prayer in solitude, they sought God for God Himself. These were some of the godliest followers of the Lord in that era of Church history.
A story of a Desert Father on not judging says, “A brother in Scetis committed a fault. A council was called to which abba Moses was invited, but he refused to go to it. Then the priest sent someone to him, saying, ‘Come, for everyone is waiting for you’. So he got up and went. He took a leaking jug and filled it with water and carried it with him. The others came out to meet him and said, ‘what is this, father?’ The old man said to them, ‘My sins run out behind me, and I do not see them, and today I am coming to judge the errors of another.’ When they heard that, they said no more to the brother but forgave him.”
If we see our sins as this old godly brother did, we will not judge but show mercy to a fellow believer on this journey with the Lord. If we judged our own selves we would see our failings as great and have great mercy to others. We should find ourselves as the publican calling out to God for mercy constantly (Luke 18:13). Just like the pharisee in the temple praying we can judge our fellow brothers, looking down on the errors of others, but not seeing our own. Lord have mercy on me and help me to be merciful to others.
The Example of Jonah, A Prophet Without Mercy
We all know the story of the prophet who was swallowed by the fish. Children are amused and enough the thought of it! Yet as adults when we take time to read through the details we realize a much more serious and important message is being given to us. Jonah was a holy prophet and admired by the people of Israel. He heard the voice of God many times and obeyed in sharing the truth with the people of God. But when the voice of the Lord told him to go to a very wicked people who worshipped the fish god, Jonah said no. He went the opposite direction in a boat but the Lord had a way of getting his attention and encouraging him to obey and speak repentance to those people.
Jonah had seen time and time again God show mercy to Israel when they did not deserve it and it turned his stomach to think he would show mercy to the very wicked people of Nineveh. Even after preaching and seeing the peoples repentance Jonah still felt that God should judge them in some way (Jonah 4:1).
We Can All Be Like Jonah
We all can be like Jonah at times, especially if we are the people who have been hurt by others. The people of Nineveh enslaved and caused great harm to Israel before so the thought of forgiving them and even God showing mercy to have them become believers was too much for Israel or their prophet Jonah to accept. Have we been hurt by others in the world who we have not forgiven? Maybe we have forgiven them but do we want them to be saved?
St. Benedict of Nursia says, “To hate no one. Not to be jealous or envious. To hate strife. To evidence no arrogance. Never despair of God’s mercy.”
God’s heart is full of grace, meaning he wants to extend his love and mercy to those who do not deserve it especially. God is compassionate and very slow to anger against those that we feel deserve it. We are never called to hate anyone, desire evil for anyone, if we shared the true Spirit of Christ we will seek the mercy of the love for all of humanity. This also extends to the body of Christ that we would seek the good of all those who call upon the Name of the Lord.
Steps To Be Free Of Judgementalism
The journey to freedom is one footstep after another. To get out of a pit one has to start the climb out. After years of habitual judging of others we can find ourselves in a deep chasm of rooted sinful behavior. Here are some small steps you can take daily to help:
1). Meditate on the Passion of Jesus Christ – Spend time in silence thinking upon the wounds of Christ. Think of the Crown of Thorns, the Pierced Side, the wounds afflicted to Christ when the soldiers were mocking Him. See your sins there causing such hurt to the Saviour. See your judgemental words heaped on Him. Also see the hope that Christ died to free us all from our passions and sins.
2). Show Acts of Mercy – No matter if you think a person deserves it or not, show mercy and kindness. Make deliberate acts to see the good in others and applaud them for these God given gifts. See where people do things better than yourself. Glory in God for anyway people serve God in a way you are not doing. Show deeds of mercy to others in gifts and kindness. Let no thought of judging to come into your mind.
3). Remind Yourself of Your Faults – When you are tempted to judge someone, consider your own faults and sins. When did you fail greatly in the same area or similar area. Look to yourself, consider how much mercy God gave you and then show that mercy to others.
4). Learn to Hate Judging – Learn to not hate others as St. Benedict counsels us but rather to hate the sins of jealousy, envying, strife, arrogance. Hate the sin of habitat judging as it’s a cancer of the soul. Put your focus on God, in worship and adoration, do not spend your time considering the faults of others even obvious false teachers or those departing from the faith. Look to your own soul find your lacks and where you are departing and pray for God’s mercy to finish well.
May God give you complete victory as you daily put this sin under the blood of Christ and the victory of His holy Cross. The God who knows all thoughts of our mind and heart will cleanse and give you victory in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.