I have been wondering about the teaching of not judging people. I feel like I constantly judge people, based on what/how they talk, what's important to them and their past.
However, I feel like in order to make prudent decisions (getting in a relationship with someone, being better friends with someone, accepting a job offer from my future boss, going to graduate school under an advisor, talking to a stranger in an airplane, getting advice from a friend..etc.etc.etc.) there is no getting around judging people! Am I looking at judging people in the wrong sense? I feel like I look down upon a lot of people..
It can be hard not to be overly judgmental. All I can suggest is to think about how or why you are judging people. If for example, your judgement results in you feeling superior, what does that do to you? Does it result in you overlooking or making light of your own failings and weakness (think of the parable about trying to take the splinter out of someone’s eye when you have a log in your own)? Are you truly trying to love someone, if you are “putting them down” - even if it is in your own head?
Sometimes we are not judging, we are responding to feelings (e.g. I can’t put my finger on it, but I just don’t trust that person) or are stereotyping. Stereotyping is okay, so long as we follow it with discernment and reason e.g. thinking that all people living on the streets deserve their circumstances and then being open to discovering that it isn’t true in all cases and revising your original thought.
As you said, you wish to live prudently and need to make prudent decisions, as we all do, but it can be hard not to fall into the trap of becoming that mealy mouthed hypocritical holy than thou person. Please don’t think that I am suggesting that you are one of those. It is just that God pulled me most loving out of that trap a short while ago and to be honest, I still pray that I concentrate on my own weaknesses and failings and not those I think others may have, and that I see Christ in all those that I meet.
Do you think that in realising that you may be over judgmental, is God’s way of bringing a weakness to your attention? I think that you are feeling that something isn’t right and, if so, the best cure is the Sacrament of Reconciliation. You get to tell the priest that this is separating you from God, receive words of counsel and absolution on condition of penance.
Just my view, hope it helps.
May God bless you.
Judging people, as Jesus prohibited, is condemning a soul’s fate in the place of God. I believe in my anecdotal experience that this commandment is more often than not used as a scapegoat by people in a liberal way in order to avoid any kind of confrontation. None of these prudent decisions you are making are judging people. Jesus does not command us to act incompetent. More often than not, things are as they appear. If somebody makes a lewd comment, it is sensible to conclude that they are lewd. If somebody has shown to be untrustworthy, it is sensible to conclude that they are untrustworthy. Civilization as we know it would burn to the ground in a month if people did not make any such conclusions on the false premise that they are judging people. Banks could not make decisions. Human resource departments could not make decisions. Schools could not make decisions. The government could not make decisions. Police could not make decisions. It would be impossible for us to function. We would all die.
Well, I think there is a little confusion at times over what "judging" means. Judging, to me is that you say this person is "good" or "bad", will go to heaven, etc.
It don't think it's where you see someone who is taking drugs and saying to yourself, taking drugs is not prudent, healthy, or wise. You are correct to say that action is wrong, even. However, it's different from saying, "That's a bad person...he's going to hell", because we don't know all the circumstances and God's mercy.
So, the farthest we can go is to say the action is wrong. That's not really judging. A lot of people try to say that is, saying, "I'm living with this guy...but who are you? God? Stop judging me!" No, it's okay to realize that action is not okay, but it's entirely different than saying...she's going to hell, then.
Likewise, we can think someone seems like a saint and going to heaven, is "saved". We can't judge, because, again, we don't know that, either. We can look at actions and at least sometimes judge them.
Sometimes, we can't even judge the actions! For example, we can look at someone giving alms and someone stealing. Sometimes, even then, we don't know! Maybe the person giving alms is rich, and this is nothing, or it's not done with their heart. Maybe the person who is stealing has a legitimate need and will replace it later.
Of course, “judging” people is a constant necessity. You have to decide which persons to have as friends, judge which ones might be dangerous to you spiritually or physically. If you are in a position to hire people, you have to judge who is the best person to hire. If your child wants to become friends with the neighborhood bully, you might judge that person would not be good for him to associate with. If you are on a jury, you have to judge whether a person is guilty or not. If you are a teacher, you have to judge a student’s skills and behavior.
If someone tries to lead you into sin, you have to make a judgment about doing what he wants; then you have to judge whether this is a person who is good for you to associate with. If you are on a quality control board, you have to judge the quality of other people’s work. All of this falls under the category of discernment.
One should always think the best of anyone, not jumping to conclusions. But one cannot fail to judge bad actions.
The only thing you can’t judge is the state of a person’s soul. Only God can judge that.
Making a prudential judgment about a job or a friendship or even who to talk with on the plane is not per se “judging” a person in the sense your getting at.
Judging actions is not judging people. If a rapist rapes a women, I judge what he did to be abominable and I know he deserves punishment.
But God judges men’s souls. I cannot say to the rapist “You are going to hell” because that is God’s judgement alone to make. But I CAN say “You’re a rapist, what you did is terrible and you should go to jail.”
Many people fail to make those distinctions.