Posted by Roberta Grimes • June 29, 2019 • 30 Comments
Human Nature, Jesus, The Teachings of Jesus
The Gospel teachings of Jesus include the most radical directives ever given. His ideas seem so revolutionary to most of us that, as the lay theologian G.K. Chesterton so memorably said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting—it has been found difficult and left untried.” The teachings of Jesus are divine commands, cosmic in scale and epic in effect when they are strictly applied, so it is little wonder that Christians shirk them! It is easier to conform to more human-scale rules, all those comforting nostrums that demand so little while they promise to deliver so much.
Rather than attempt to follow the Lord’s commands, Christians cling to the human-made ideas upon which they have built their human-made religion. And the worst of these human-made dogmas is the notion that Jesus died to redeem us from God’s judgment for our human failings. Jesus tells us clearly right in the Gospels that neither He nor God ever judges us, so this is one small human idea that should have been smothered at its birth! Jesus says, “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father” (JN 5:22-23). And then He says, “If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world” (JN 12:47). And lest that word “save” might seem hopeful to Christians who still cling to fear-based human notions, it is clear from what the Lord says in the Gospels that what He came to “save” us from was… all those fear-based human ideas!
Human-made rules are all that matters in modern Christianity. And generally these are easy to follow: just claim Jesus as your Savior, show up on Sunday, put money in the plate, and follow petty rules that other people can police and can judge. I recall as a child how Catholic children could never take a bite from a hot dog without double-confirming that today wasn’t Friday. Fundamentalist Protestant kids were sure that hell yawned before us if we said a bad word. Yet no Christian denomination, even now, insists that the teachings of Jesus must be taken as seriously as He means them to be taken. And because this is true, Christianity as a whole defies the Lord’s most important core teaching. Indeed, it considers the defiance of that most essential Gospel command to be an actual virtue!
Most of us think of God’s Law of Love as the central Gospel command. It is certainly the most popular! When a religious lawyer asked Jesus what was the greatest commandment in the Law, He said the words that Christians relish quoting: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (MT 34:36-39). How we all love those easy and happy words! But it turns out that the easy and happy kind of love is not the sort of love that the Lord demands. No, He says, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them! … But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men” (LK 6:32-36).
So, contrary to the comfy teachings about love that Christians come to church to hear, Jesus says that in order for us to love in the way He calls upon us to love, we first must learn perfect forgiveness. And forgiving is a much harder slog than loving, so of course religious Christians don’t emphasize it. Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” And Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” (MT 18:21-23). In other words, no matter how many times that same nasty miscreant does the very same awful things to you, it is essential that you forgive him. Every time.
The easiest way for us to achieve the Lord’s standard of perfect forgiveness is to learn prevenient forgiveness, which actually is not hard to do! Indeed, it turns out that mastering the Lord’s version of forgiveness is a piece of cake if we do it right. And once we have it, we begin to rise in spirit naturally toward the perfect love which beneath all this petty human drivel turns out to be what we already are. So forgiveness is not difficult, and love is our birthright. Why then do so few Christians even remotely approach spiritual perfection?
It turns out that beyond forgiveness and love there is one central Gospel teaching that pretty much everyone ignores, yet very closely following that teaching is an indispensable precursor to our ever learning to forgive and love in the transformational way that Jesus tells us we must forgive and love. Here are what turn out to be the Lord’s most essential Gospel words, the teaching that underlies all else: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you” (MT 7:1-2).
Even if Jesus had not added to His command that we love God and love our neighbor the conclusion that “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (MT 34:40), so He thereby replaced the entire Old Testament with God’s perfect Law of Love, we can see that the Lord’s prohibition of our ever judging anyone would have just as completely done the job of consigning all those Old Testament rules to God’s well-deserved eternal dustbin!
But as we have sadly noted, most of the forty-thousand-odd versions of modern Christianity treat the Old Testament’s brutal rules as still God’s Inspired, Inerrant Word; although instead of murdering the miscreants, they only judge and ostracize them. The Old Testament is full of judgment and punishment! Good grief, even not being sufficiently attentive to a clergyman is an unpardonable offense that what Christians call God’s Inspired, Inerrant Word declares is punishable by death. This is the great sin of “acting presumptuously.” Oh, heaven help us! “The man who acts presumptuously by not listening to the priest who stands there to serve the Lord your God, nor to the judge, that man shall die; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel. Then all the people will hear and be afraid, and will not act presumptuously again” (Deut 17:12-13).
It is because every Christian denomination altogether ignores the Lord’s prohibition on our ever judging anyone that Christians, individually and in congregations, are together the most self-righteously judgmental people on the face of the earth. Here are the words of a fundamentalist preacher who insists to this day that his personal version of the Old Testament is God’s Inspired, Inerrant Word: “Islam teaches its adherents to kill those in bondage to homosexuality, but Christianity teaches to pray for them to find freedom from their bondage to sin through Christ!” And, “Pope Francis has said, ‘who am I to judge?’ And the Baptists have been discussing homosexuality and gay marriage as if there were something to be discussed. Let us be clear: having sex in defiance of God’s law is a choice!” Of course, the plain fact is that this good man and so many well-meaning others who still call the entire Bible God’s Inspired, Inerrant Word do not themselves strictly follow it. For example, they feel free now to very harshly judge and condemn but not to outright kill homosexuals, which puts them in plain defiance of what they continue to insist is God’s Inspired, Inerrant Word.
This way lies madness. Jesus tells us plainly that we must not judge, that we must always completely forgive, yet today’s Christians celebrate the courage of bakers and florists who refuse to help loving couples celebrate their unions, simply because those bakers and florists judge and condemn their customers’ life-choices. And an Australian Rugby player has been fired for posting a meme on Instagram that reads, “Warning drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolaters, Hell awaits you. Repent! Only Jesus saves.” By what conceivable teaching of Jesus does this man gain the right to judge and condemn all these people to his notion of hellfire?
Let us be clear. I am not saying that secular society is right in attempting to force people to violate their own consciences. Rather, I am pointing out the fact that when people who call themselves Christians do not put the Gospel teachings of Jesus on love, forgiveness, and a refusal to judge first of all, above every Old Testament rule and far above every Christian dogma, these people are not following Jesus at all.
And it is past time to call them out!
So, what would Jesus have us do? The beloved Teacher who made a point of harvesting heads of grain on the Sabbath, who dined with tax collectors and prostitutes and even insisted to the clergy of His day that these sinners would make it into the kingdom of God while the clergy were still wailing in the outer darkness: what do His words and His actions suggest about how we ought to be living our lives?
Of course, the question is its own answer.
It isn’t only Christians who are quick to judge, in defiance of the Lord’s command. You and I judge others every day! Looking down on and feeling superior to people who seem to be less virtuous than we are makes us all feel smugly righteous. But just as is true of a reluctance to forgive, our propensity to judge both harms ourselves and damages and delays the world’s willingness to accept at last the Lord’s Gospel truths. Jesus tells us in the Gospels that He judges no one, and God judges no one. Surely it is therefore our sacred duty never to judge anyone either! So in pure love for Jesus, bake a beautiful cake, arrange your best flowers, and attend the ceremony with hugs and lots of love all around. When you and I only love and forgive, when none of us ever presumes to judge, then we will be able to ever more perfectly share God’s love and light with all the world. Jesus calls us to “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (MT 5:16). As Jesus leads us now in uplifting the world, how can any of us still choose the petty pleasures of judging others over ever more perfectly reflecting only the Lord’s pure love and light?
30 thoughts on “Do Not Judge”
Thank you for sharing your insights. You have truly opened my eyes. Since I was a young child I always knew I would be happiest when I became “older” yet as I did I have had challenges that would defy that logic.
Your posts and clear insights bring the simple truths we know in our core being to light. I have always said that organized religion is the first form of government. While it had a useful purpose it is time for us to be self-governed. Your posts help point the way.
I write this to you so you can know how much your work and study have profound effects upon those that read your posts.
Thank you for all you have done and continue to do.
Dear JP, I think your insight about organized religion being the first form of government is profound! The very earliest forms of government were all about brute force, sheer power, and since people are by their very nature spiritual beings who exist on a continuum from fear-based at the lowest vibration to love-based at the highest vibration it seems to have become apparent to rulers early on that controlling people through fear was a lot more efficient than is controlling them just with naked force!
Anyone who objectively reads the Old Testament – and I really recommend reading at least the first five books, although even doing that can be a slog – but anyone who reads the OT can see how fear of supernatural forces and consequences was used ever more effectively to control the ancient Jewish masses. Fear of God, of course, was the worst fear and at the same time the most powerful fear, since if God doesn’t want you then you have no hope at all!
Modern religions are more about controlling people’s minds enough to make them show up and warm the pews and put money in the plate, but for most of human history religions were the most powerful tool that any government had to keep the masses in line. Wonderful point! And sadly, tragically, unless religions can come up with more love-based motivations than they are using, even today, every one of them will have to die in order for human spiritual growth to advance at all.
Thank you for sharing your insights with all of us. Your posts are bring Jesus’ teachings to clearly light our way.
Personally I have always believed that organized religion while necessary at the time was the first form of governing people. While it had a useful purpose, you make it clear that it is time for us to govern our own thoughts and behaviors and not rely upon the judgements of others.
For many years I became less religious and more spiritual and now know why.
As it has been said, when the student needs a teacher they will appear. Roberta you are a wonderful teacher and for that we are all grateful. Your posts point the way. Your work and study have profound effects upon those that read your posts. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do.
Dear JP, I think your experience in finding organized religion to be increasingly unsatisfactory is being shared now almost universally! It is astonishing to see how quickly people are abandoning their mainstream churches, and I am very much surprised – but heartened – to be hearing from so many wonderfully sincere and spiritually hungry people who are newly religion-free and are eager now for greater truths.
The message of Jesus turns out to be precisely what we have been yearning for, all along! And since Christians are largely ignoring Him, we all help the world as we raise Him up. While fewer than 20% of Americans now attend church weekly, the Lord’s approval rating in the United States is an amazing 90%! Only Abraham Lincoln is a hair more popular, at 91%.
There is nothing in this world more powerful than an idea whose time at last has come….
Help me, Lord, to not judge the judgers.
I think God loves all Creation.
Dear BJ, this is something that I wrestle with too! In my zeal for Jesus and His teachings that Christianity almost entirely ignores, I have judged the religion and especially its preachers pretty harshly, I am afraid. I am trying to get past that now! God does indeed love all creation, and you and I and all of us can do no less. So, yes, let’s remember always that we must never judge the judgers, but instead our constant example must be only love and forgiveness for all.
Thank you so much for your clear vision and thoughts. I so much love your writing/videos on this topic. I started training myself, and continue doing it, a few years ago by catching my judgmental thoughts. We are victims of our society, but each of us has a great power to choose. I chose to train my subconscious mind little by little, day by day to not judge, and not only people but every living thing including plants and animals. It took me a while to catch my judgmental thoughts right on time, but every day it got easier and easier. It became one of my best habits. I am so proud of myself! It feels so good, and it’s a such a great feeling to be free of judgement. And when I feel good I want more and more of the same feeling. I now know what true love is. Love is seeing yourself in others. It is that simple! I, personally, think it’s a skill that everyone needs to be taught at school. This is who we are!
I wake up every day and say, “Today, is going to be a really good day. Today, I am going to shine and radiate my light, my love to everyone and everything in my world and beyond.” I’ve made a chose of being compassion towards others than be judgmental. And your knowledge about judgement forgiveness, and love confirms that I am on the right path and doing the right thing. Thank you!
Dear Alyona, I have been trying to do the same and, I agree, it feels so much better not to judge!
I used to have great difficulty ‘forgiving’ people who committed terrible murders or harmed children or animals. What helped me was this: If I hate and condemn this person, I am not helping this person, or the world. All I am doing is adding to the hate and judgement already in abundance. The only thing that will help this person, and the world, is to send them Love because Love is the force that heals.
Dear Kristian, such a wonderful point and so beautifully made! You are expressing precisely the point that Jesus makes and that nearly all Christians ignore: love really is the most powerful force, and the only force that has the ability really to improve anything. No matter the question, love is always the answer!
Oh dear Alyona, thank you for saying such lovely things! All of us are helping one another to ever better follow the simple but extraordinarily powerful teachings of Jesus, and in doing that we will be able quite literally to transform the world! For me, the most joyous part of doing this work is that every day now I hear from people who, like you, have undertaken their own very powerful and immensely positive journeys on the path that Jesus laid for us. You encourage and inspire me more than you know!
Thank you Roberta for this insight. Ego’s judgement is such a tangled, shifting web of conditioning, fears, and belief systems, many of them unconscious and based on limited understanding of reality and other people’s experience, that trying to eliminate it reminds me of trying to untangle the legendary Gordian knot. I can see why you prescribe prevenient forgiveness as the sword that cuts through all the ego’s tricks.
Yes indeed, dear Scott. As you point out, judgment of others is the ego’s tool, its way to make us feel superior, which is another great reason for us never to judge! When we refuse to play the judgment game, we vastly reduce the ego’s power over us. Well said!
I’m going to need to go into my ‘Oy Vey’ mode for this blog reply, as you’ve mentioned an Australian football player using his public platform to make homophobic and judgmental statements, about who is bound for the fires of Hell.
You see the main ‘religion’ of Australians has been described by many as being sport. Football games are far more well attended than churches and footballers are often given hero status and function as role models for kids.
Especially for boys. So what footballers say, for good or for ill, influences countless young minds.
Some of these ace Aussie rugby players descend from Pacific Islanders who have settled in Australia. Sadly, when the Pacific island groups were sequestered by European powers, the most fundamentalist forms of Christianity were brought to the indigenous peoples living there. To this day, inerrant Word of God churches hold sway among their descendants. And judging ‘sinners’ is very much part of this.
Judgmental thinking is rife in this world, dear Roberta. And your blog reminds me of a story that we kids were told by a teacher at scripture class.
The Night of the Long Spoons:
This tale was attributed to Rabbi Haim of Romshishok, Lithuania, 1813-1883. (Though the story exists in many forms from Europe to China.)
In short, a desirous Rabbi prays to see the nature of Heaven and ‘Hell’. ( NB: This refers to the ‘hellish state’. Judaism doesn’t have an actual Hell.) So an angel takes him on a journey while the Rabbi is asleep at night.
Firstly, the Rabbi visits Hell. He sees a beautiful natural place and enters a large house. There he sees many starving people sitting at a long table. The table is laden with a sumptuous banquet. Yet the diners cannot eat, because wooden splints have been tied to their arms, stopping them from bending their elbows. They have spoons in their hands but these wretched folk cannot bring the spoons to their mouths; they cannot eat even a morsel! They just look at the heaped dishes of food longingly.
The Rabbi shudders and begs to be taken away from this terrible place. Then the angel takes him to see Heaven. It is the same kind of beautiful place. He enters a large manor house and sees many healthy, happy, chatting and laughing people sitting at a long table laden with a full banquet.
These folk also have arms tied with splints, and spoons in there hands. They too cannot feed themselves. Then the Rabbi waits and watches and to his surprise, they each begin to feed the person across the table from them!
Then the visitant Rabbi gets an idea, and he begs the angel to take him back to Hell, as he wishes to help the starving wretches there. When he does arrive at Hell’s banquet table, the Rabbi tells the first man at the table to feed the guy directly across from him. ‘That ingrate?!’ The sitting guy replies. ‘I’m not going to feed him, while I sit here starving!’
…… Then the journeying Rabbi finally understood the difference between Heaven and Hell.
Maybe Roberta, the folk in Heaven just feed the people opposite them out of love, in the spirit of togetherness. They didn’t first find out if the person had stolen anything in their earthly lives, or had drunk too much or if they had been gay. They just fed each other automatically, because it was in their nature to love another as much as they loved themselves.
I’m less judgmental than I used to be, so there’s that. I’m feeling that as I grow in Love, judging others will fade away. I mean, can cold judgmentalism remain in a heart filled with love ? Or is there just love in the end?
We were getting ready to post a comment and you have made the point so clearly that I think mine is not necessary! Except maybe, for my own little contribution’s sake, to add that there is a difference between judging and forgiving. They are related but not the same. The gospels are filled with examples of Jesus spending quality time with folks the locals and the Jewish hierarchy deemed “unfit” for a variety if reasons. Always the point or at least the subtext was related to the supposition of “us” vs. “them.”
Hi Mike. You are right about the confusion and blending that can come up between judgement and forgiveness. I had a heck of a time trying to come up with a coherent thought on this, maybe the toughest of any post so far. If nothing else, these discussions help me get clearer in my thinking. I guess where I wound up was that prevenient forgiveness makes the judgement issue moot and puts the ego on the sidelines, allowing the pure love of the soul to shine forth. What do you think? Does that make sense?
Scott, Yes, I agree that’s a good place to start. It’s important to remember that this sounds simple but it’s not. The effects may come more quickly and encompass our lives more completely than we anticipate once we start, but where to start?
One of the most poignant passages in the gospel tells of disciples who decided it was too hard to change, and they “went home.” Jesus turned to the 12 and said, “What about you? Are you leaving too?” His heart was broken.
I suspect the requirement that people get over their biases and their need for a judgment that (of course) always put them out ahead, was the part they found to be too hard.
Dear Scott, this makes perfect sense to me! I think one reason why “bespoke” forgiveness – forgiving things only after they happen – is so difficult and so stressful is that we too often immediately judge those who harm us. So what we are fighting then is both our reluctance to forgive and our eagerness to judge! Prevenient forgiveness short-circuits both the need to forgive and the ego-rewards of judging. I hadn’t thought of it quite this way, but you are perfectly right!
You raise an interesting point here. The difference between judging and forgiving. So they are related …..yet…
I get the feeling that there is a lot more in this than one could first realize. And does the interplay of ‘them’ vs ‘us’ come into this too?
As usual, I look forward to your wise insights.🙏🏼
Yes, Mike, great point. Jesus repeatedly stressed the fact that there is no “us” or “them,” didn’t He?
Dear Efrem, from what we know of the next stage of life, or the afterlife – what is actually real life – there is indeed no judgment there beyond our judgment of our own failings while on earth, and even that is something for which there is a lot of counseling available. There is in that beautiful eternity only love, and ever more perfect love.
I had heard that rabbi’s story, but I believe it was a somewhat different version. The point was the same: we can only be fed or helped by others, so we first feed or help them! I also recall reading about experiments done with monkeys in which they can’t get the reward, but they can get it to another monkey and that monkey can in turn reward the one who got him his reward. The experimenters found that the brighter monkeys got it instantly, were rewarding one another like mad, and were rather smug about it!
Perhaps they are smarter than we are. In fact, human life is actually that experiment writ large, isn’t it? The more we help others, the more they can help us?
What a wonderful story about the Lithuanian Rabbi. I think it means that by doing for others (feeding the person across from you) opens a door for reciprocation. Then, the person who has been helped will likely do the same for someone else unless, of course, such as in the “hell banquet,” the person who is called upon to help, thinks only of himself and how something would benefit him. What he doesn’t understand is that by helping others (without judgment) almost always results in an increased state of well being because it eliminates or greatly decreases the negativity of being self centered.
Efrem: I saw the Australian football player’s remarks about the “dangers” of being a drinker, being gay or not being a Christian. It’s hard to believe he made these remarks only recently and not back in the 19th century. His views were not well received and he was fired from the rugby union.
This Aussie football player situation has caused quite a stir. Here in Australia there are many twists and turns to what’s happening. It’s fast becoming a melodrama.
Basically Rugby Australia terminates the contract of players, deemed ambassadors for the sport, who act against their charter.
In the case of homophobia related incidents, Rugby Australia stands against any form of vilification of gay people. They know that gay and lesbian kids do suffer depression and even take their own lives due to pervading intolerance and scapegoating in society.
Thankfully many Australians stand against such vilification these days. ❣️
Dear Lola, for me the tragedy, too, is the fact that this young man was taught his prejudices in the name of Jesus. There are whole churches where good and well-meaning young people are, even to this day, taught to judge and condemn rather than being taught to love and forgive. We truly do have our work cut out for us, if we want to help Jesus transform the world!
I agree with your statements regarding florists and bakers serving gay couples. I feel it goes both ways, and and the gay couple also has a responsibility to not judge, forgive and walk away, finding another service provider. However, it’s most difficult to do this when the religion of the so called Christian baker has been a formidable enemy of equal rights for generations.
Dear Timothy, the judgment comes first from Christians, and from the Western societies that Christians have built (not, of course, that non-western societies are any better). If we imagine a world in which Christianity had been assembled based upon the teachings of Jesus, in which therefore love was always the standard by which everything – including sexual orientation – is measured, then that would be a society in which judging one another based upon the Old Testament’s fear-based rules never would occur to anyone! As Jesus said, each of us needs to remove the log from our own eye so we can see better to remove the speck from our brother’s eye. Good points!
Doesn’t it mean we shouldn’t be denouncing others for their minor faults or failings when we can’t see that we have greater ones?
Yes, of course, dear Mac! But since we all have faults that we lack the perspective to see clearly, it is a reasonable working assumption that every one of us has a log in our eye that we must first remove before we even can see the faults of others clearly. Good point!
Yes, Roberta. People who claim to be Christians have been using Jesus to justify their professed beliefs for centuries. Obviously, they feel that if everyone becomes convinced that Jesus is against certain groups of people, then that particular group is not worthy of heaven or whatever. It’s like trying to sell a product. If a well liked, well respected person stands behind the product, it will sell like hot cakes. Sometimes those doing all the protesting are total hypocrites. For instance, in the 1980’s, a well known Christian minister who had his own TV program, made it very clear that being gay was “against the laws of God,” but a few years later he was caught attempting to solicit a gay prostitute. Needless to say, he and his TV program disappeared from the public eye
Oh my yes, dear Lola! I remember Jimmy Swaggart in particular, who frolicked with a prostitute and then cried on TV. What a hypocrite! And there have been so many other clergymen who were quick to judge others for what they considered to be sexual sins which they themselves were committing. Good grief, what about all the countless gay Catholic priests and bishops who have been sexual abusing little boys??
Jesus warned us about false religions. He told us we would know them by their fruits. And the rotten fruits of hypocritical Christianity lie thick on the ground all around us :-(.
Very true, Roberta. I had forgotten all about Jimmy Swaggart, but he’s just one of many. The Catholic church seems to have promoted this kind of behavior by not allowing priests to marry or have any type of relationships. It seems like such a good cover for “sneaking around” to do the very things they condemned others for doing. The remark Jesus made about false religions couldn’t be truer.