“Judge not,” said Jesus. Two words, not hard to understand. Yet, by all appearances, almost impossible to obey, even by, sometimes especially by, those who claim to follow the teacher who said them.
I don’t think this teaching discourages using good judgment or discernment. I think it is cautioning us against setting ourselves apart by judging others, rather than building bridges and finding common ground in our shared humanity.
And why is judging discouraged? Jesus explains: “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”
Some interpret this as a threat by a deity, promising retribution for disobedience. But perhaps it is simply an observation of cause and effect, along the lines of you reap what you sow. The world will reflect back to us what we project onto it. The judgment of fault that I attach to someone else in some way mirrors something that I reject within myself.
For me, it’s even simpler than that. Judging doesn’t make me happy. That’s enough reason right there for me to start catching myself in judgment mode and redirect. And how do I do that? Lately, this phrase has been helpful to me:
I’m not here to judge you. I’m here to love you.
Sometimes I’ve said it out loud to someone who is perceiving judgment, ready to fight back in defense. It’s pretty amazing how that little phrase can defuse tension and shift energy. A closed fist becomes an open hand. Sometimes I just say it to myself when my thoughts are roiling in judgmental agitation. Calm descends. Breath slows and deepens. Peace flows.
I am reminded that my job on this plane of existence is not to figure out what everyone else should be doing and insist that they do it. My job is to rest in the eternal heart of the Beloved, trusting all, embracing all, loving all. Only that.
I have no purpose for today except to look upon a liberated world, set free from all the judgments I have made. ~A Course in Miracles