“Stop judging and you will not be judged.”

Continuing the Sermon on the Plain, Jesus presents, arguably, His most challenging teaching (Lk 6:27-38).  Still addressing the disciples, Jesus speaks at length about loving one’s enemies (even if they curse or mistreat) and how that manifests itself (turn the other cheek, lend without expecting return, extend mercy).  The closing paragraph starts with the line above and continues on by saying than one shouldn’t condemn others but rather forgive.  How one measures this out will be how justice and mercy will be measured out when one enters the next life.  The message about judging is often misinterpreted or twisted to allow for sin.  The line is best read in light of the sentence about not condemning which follows it (and more broadly in the light of the entire Bible).  We can and should make rational judgments about the objective nature of an act.  If such an act is contrary to God’s moral law it is certainly not to be tolerated (toleration only pertains to goods, permissiveness to evil).  In fact, we have an obligation to call sin out when it is done publicly (and privately, although circumstances will dictate whether it is proper to make it public or to just address the matter with the perpetrator) (helpful are these verses).  We are to witness to the truth, even if it means going against an increasingly corrupted culture, and even if it results in a backlash to ourselves.  The frequent refrain, “Stop judging me!” should not intimidate us or silence us, since it is usually used to excuse wrong behavior.  Our response, rather, must be to speak the truth in love, gently but firmly, and continue to pray.  But we are not to take on the role of judge of that person’s eternal destiny.  That remains God’s purview alone.  We do not know the state of another’s soul or his culpability in any sinful behavior.  In this we are best mindful of the wooden beam in our own eye (Mt 7:1-5).

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