I often get upset at myself whenever I pass judgment on another person. Should I get just as upset whenever I pass judgment on myself? I remember a tennis instructor pointing this out to me. He said, “You shouldn’t yell at your opponent or partner when they mess up. So, why do you yell at yourself when you mess up?” I’d never thought about that before. Is there a place for self-examination without self-condemnation in all this “judgment” talk?[featured-image single_newwindow=”false”]
When you “judge” yourself, you need to understand this as “self-audit” not self-condemnation. It is the ability to assess your own “junk” for what it really is. It’s more like discernment. Whether sin, unwise action, false belief, or a dominating passion, you see clearly your own issue. And, seeing it clearly, you deal with it in a manner appropriate to the issue.
Paul, John & Jesus on Judging
1. St. Paul does not “judge” (condemn) himself leaving any kind of “judgment” to God (1 Corinthians 4.1-5). To pass this kind of self-condemning judgment is to assume God’s authority. Paul will have no part in that.
2. It is best and wise to “judge” (discern) yourself now or face God’s judgment (discipline) later (1 Corinthians 11.29-31). This is to be done as one prepares to receive the body and blood of Christ. However, it is a good practice always.
St. John Chrysostom (349-407), Archbishop of Constantinople and important Early Church Father, writes:
Instead of passing idly by what are considered slight sins, let us daily require an account of ourselves, for words and glances, and execute sentence upon ourselves so as to be free from punishment later. This is the reason Paul said, “If we judge ourselves, we would not be judged.” Thus, if we judge ourselves for our sins everyday here, we shall preclude the severity of the judgment in that other place. But if we should be remiss, we shall be judged and chastised by the Lord. So, let us take the initiative in passing sentence upon ourselves with all good will, holding the court of conscience unbeknown to anyone. Let us examine our own thoughts and determine a proper verdict so that through fear of imminent punishment our mind may forebear to be dragged down and instead may check its impulses and by keeping in view that unsleeping eye, may ward off the devil’s advances.
Who wants to know the reality of their own sins and faults? The person who’d rather face them now than face them at judgment time. Now or later. It’s really up to you.
3. Jesus instructs us to discern and remove the plank (log) in our own eye before attempting to deal with the speck in another’s eye (Matthew 7.3-5, Luke 6.41-42). Our efforts of discernment need to focus on our own hearts not on the hearts of others. (Wow! Did I just write that? That is contrary to almost everything I’ve done in ministry.)
That’s why this Orthodox prayer used during Great Lent is so beneficial to the soul:
O Lord and Master of my life, give me not a spirit of sloth, idle curiosity, love of power, and useless chatter. Rather, accord to me Your servant a spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love. Yes, Lord and King, grant that I may see my own faults and not condemn my brother, for blessed are You forever and ever. AMEN.
So, a good place to start in discerning your own sins and weaknesses, is to ask God to reveal them to you. Yikes! Crazy, huh?!?
Are You One of These?
From this we learn who will learn to discern their own “junk“ —
- The humble person who doesn’t play God.
- The discerning person who is open and unafraid to see themselves for who they really are.
- The honest person who doesn’t want anything (including his/her own self-delusions) to hinder any relationship.
You and I are invited into the “non-judgmental” zone on the journey.
I hear it’s a beautiful place.