Judging, of course, is basic and indispensable to us. It is the first step we do to know things. As soon as our senses apprehend certain things, our intelligence is immediately activated and starts to make judgments so we can start knowing. From there, we can make many other intellectual operations— like more judgments and reasoning— to be able to know more things and in a better way.
We have to take this basic fact of life into consideration whenever we try to understand Christ’s words when he said, “Judge not and you shall not be judged.” (Mt 7,1) He did not mean that we should not judge at all, because that would be inhuman, that would be against the very nature God designed for us.
In fact, the succeeding passages of those words of Christ presume that we make judgments as a natural thing we do. “For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged,” he said. “And with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again.” (7,2)
From these words, what we can conclude is that we should be careful with our judgments. We should see to it that our judgments are in accordance with our dignity as children of God who have to judge people and things the way God judges them, that is, full of charity and everything else that flows as a consequence of charity. Most prominent in these consequences of charity would be prudence and discretion.
This can mean that there must be times when we have to judge not to judge because we have no basis for making such judgments. Otherwise, we would commit what is called rash judgments. In other words, there are times when we have to withhold our judgment, or at least make only a tentative one that has to be handled with a lot of discretion.
Of course, we can have suspicions, which are already a form of judgment. We can also theorize and hypothesize, if only to understand something to a certain extent or to be able to deal in some practical way with a certain issue. These are already forms of judgment, albeit tentative and not definitive.
We have to be always wary of the need to judge not to judge when the occasion calls for it. We should not be “trigger- happy” with our judgments. We need to study and weigh things first before we make any judgments or we decide to withhold making any.
This is especially so when we are fed only with gossips and hearsays, or when we are confronted with questions and issues that are beyond our competence. Especially in the area of politics, where there is intense bias and prejudice because of its extremely partisan character, the need to judge not to judge should be deeply felt.
At best, we can only make tentative judgments that, as said above, should be handled with discretion. We need to have a good grip of our emotions and passions, because otherwise, they would usually lead us to make rash judgments.
We also have to be careful with our “small talks” that usually are none other than gossips and other inane, frivolous chats that cause harm on the name of others.
What is most important is that we fill our mind and heart with the spirit of Christ so that in everything that we think, judge and speak, there is always charity and prudence and discretion.
Let’s remember what St. Paul said about having the spirit of Christ in this regard: “The spiritual man judges all things, but he himself is not subject to anyone’s judgment. For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to instruct Him. But we have the mind of Christ…” (1 Cor 2,15-16)
In other words, the only way we can judge properly is when we are truly identified with Christ, animated by the same spirit, having the same mind as he has.