When you feel like judging your neighbor…

I can be pretty judgmental. It’s one of my many failings. I read something about the topic a few weeks back that has stuck with me. It’s from Bruce Marshall’s novel, The Word, The Flesh, and Father Smith:

Always remember that you can’t see into other people’s souls, but you can see into your own, and so as far as you know there is nobody alive more wicked and ungrateful to Almighty God than yourself.

A helpful reminder. While we sometimes have to make calls on what people say or do, we can’t know what’s going on inside. Rather than fall into that trap, we are encouraged by the fathers of the church to point our accusing fingers back upon ourselves.

“A humble and spiritually active man, when he reads the Holy Scriptures, will refer everything to himself and not to another,” says Mark the Monk.

Seen in such a light, judgmental attitudes are really opportunities to inventory our own hearts.

Am I, for instance, demonstrating love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control? Likely not. And the person with work to do is me.

About Joel J. Miller

I'm the author of Lifted by Angels, a look at angels through the eyes of the early church. Click here for more about me or subscribe to my RSS here.

  • Susan_G1

    A godly reminder. Thanks.

  • Allen Bourque

    Nice. I would add that I’ve found it enlightening, in an uncomfortable kind of way, to consider my specifc judgements as psychological projections.

  • Matt Thornton

    A related quote that’s always stuck with me is that “we judge ourselves on our intentions, and others on their actions”
    It’s so easy to forget how utterly opaque we are to one another.