Judging the Judgmental

Right after the Haitian earthquake, a very well known Christian personality made some comments about the earthquake that I considered ill-timed. Of course, media outlets were quick to respond to his comments with their own judgments. I think it’s fair to say that the media reactions gave more time to his comments than they would have otherwise.

During that time I posted a satirical letter. I don’t know anything about the letter’s author but found it to be clever and interesting. The letter was supposedly composed by the Devil and addressed to the man who made the ill-timed comments. In it the devil suggests they should renegotiate their contract. I found it funny but also harsh.

After I posted the letter there was one response, delivered in person, that caused me to think deeply about the entire event. While my opinions regarding the letter have only changed a little I must admit that my friend’s response to my posting of the letter caused me to confront an ugly part of myself, my judgmentalism.

Specifically, the conversation has helped me confront my judgmentalism toward those I perceive to be judgmental. I find it somewhat easy to be merciful in my judgments toward those who have spiritual struggles or moral failings. I certainly find it difficult to judge those who express a sense of humility about their circumstances. It’s not always easy but its certainly easier to avoid judging them than it is those who seem so right, unapologetically convinced of a point of view I don’t hold, and one I consider unhelpful.

I am chronically judgmental of the judgmental.

Judging anyone is a tarpit. I’m grateful for the injunction from Jesus to not judge. (Matthew 7:1.) Of course, Jesus is not talking about giving up on judging between right and wrong, better and best, evil and good. He is specifically referencing the judgment of people that results with the “judger” feeling vindicated. There is no vindication from the failure of another only the painful, and hopefully humble, reminder that we all have feet of clay.

So today, I am reminded once again of St. Ephrem’s Lenten prayer which says:

O Lord and Master of my life, give me not the spirit of sloth, idle curiosity (meddling), lust for power and idle talk.

But grant unto me, Thy servant, a spirit of chastity (integrity), humility, patience and love.

Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see mine own faults and not to judge my brother. For blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Amen, indeed.

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