Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

Judging Others

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Judging others is in essence focusing on people's mistakes with the intention of condemning them rather than seeking their salvation. When a person judges another, he claims a false ownership putting himself in the place of God Who is the ultimate judge of the whole world.

Judging others springs from a proud, arrogant, self-glorifying soul that gets fed and nourished by a hard heart and bad company. For example a person who grows up in a home full of fault-finding tendencies, gossip, malice, and hard heartedness is often attacked by the sin of judging others.

The act of being judgmental removes God's grace and transfers the sin of the person judged to the judgmental. In addition, the sin of condemning others puts one under the same verdict with which he has condemned, "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you" (Matthew 7:1-2).

A person who is preoccupied with judging others more often than not neglects his repentance and the salvation of his own soul. "I am surprised at the one who does not bemoan his own dead while bemoaning someone else's deceased" one of the fathers has said.

The cure to being judgmental starts with a self search and a self judgment, repeating after David the Psalmist, "For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me" (Psalm 51:3). Escaping from bad companionship and sticking to good one is essential because the latter rescues from the sin of judging others.

It is good that one turns a judgmental thought into a prayerful one so much so that every judgmental thought becomes a thoughtful prayer for the person we are tempted to judge. There is a big difference between judging a person and condemning an act. For example, an act of stealing deserves to be called an act of theft. However, it is not correct to label the doer as thief.

Our Lord Jesus Christ has taught us not to base our judgments on appearances but to judge lawfully and justly and this is the business and concern of God Who alone can search the innermost of hearts and beings. Therefore, let no one presume the power of reading people's minds and thoughts or search their intentions or drives. A pure heart sees everything purely. A filthy heart, on the other hand, sees everything as filthy.

St. Paul in his epistle to the Galatians urges the Galatians to salvage a fallen person instead of condemning him. "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted" (Galatians 6:1).

Getting rid of hypocrisy and removing the pole off of one's eye is a primary step in overcoming the wrong practice of condemning and judging others.

May our Lord Jesus Christ guide us to have a pure heart.

Bishop Youssef
Bishop, Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

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