Thinking A Little More About Judgment

Some people struggle with the idea of observing without judgement.  Some people have difficulty with the execution of such an idea, as they have cultivated a habit of judging and are somewhat attached to it, somewhat invested in it.  Some people reject the very premise of such an idea, suggesting judgment is a necessity for survival.  But those same people usually affirm the teaching of Jesus, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1, New International Version)

I have previously mentioned the Matthew Henry Commentary in this space.  Henry wrote that there are people whose job it is to judge (rulers, authorities, etc.) and Jesus didn’t come to abolish those jobs.  There was another occasion when Jesus told his disciples they would one day judge the twelve tribes of Israel, but that day is in a redeemed future.  To judge someone is to presume an authority I don’t have.

To judge someone is to declare consent to be judged according to the same standard by which I have judged someone.  Some people have not considered that consequence to be the case.

One gentleman I spoke with conjectured that, other things being equal, we tend to judge the people who we consider to be least like us.

After some pondering, I consider the command “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” to be a particular instance of the command “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31, New International Version).  The command “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” could also be considered as a special case of “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31, New International Version)

Could it be that this command “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” is a trickier command to keep than it looks?  Could it be that we really do love our neighbor as ourselves, but we have a certain degree of self-hatred, for we know we’ve fallen short?  Could it be we would like to judge others, so we don’t seem so bad by comparison?

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.

“Few” Is Not “None,” “Rarely” Is Not “Never”

I confess discomfort with the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14, a section of a group of teachings commonly known as “the Sermon on the Mount:”

“Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14, New International Version)

While other Bible translations may tweak the words slightly, the common-sense meanings of the passage in different translations are very similar.  I have found the Matthew Henry Commentary (written in 1710) to be nourishing to my soul.

His commentary on this passage is too long to quote, but could be summarized as saying, “The wide gate doesn’t require you to restrain your appetites.  The broad road doesn’t require you to control your impulses.  If you knew where the crowd was headed, you wouldn’t follow the crowd.  There’s no point in trying to blink the fact or dodge the issue. Do you want life?  Jesus tells you how to find it.  The multitudes unwilling (for whatever reason) to follow his instructions are making an insane, unfortunate choice.”

There is a similar idea in this poem of Kabir, 15th Century poet of India, translated by Rabindranath Tagore:

TELL me, Brother, how can I renounce Maya?
When I give up the tying of ribbons, still I tied my garment about me:
When I gave up tying my garment, still I covered my body in its folds.
So, when I give up passion, I see that anger remains;
And when I renounce anger, greed is with me still;
And when greed is vanquished, pride and vainglory remain;
When the mind is detached and casts Maya away, still it clings to the letter.
Kabir says, “Listen to me, dear Sadhu!  the true path is rarely found.”

My discomfort comes from the word “few” in “only a few find it” in Matthew 7:14.  I have a similar discomfort from the word “rarely” in “the true path is rarely found.”  Matthew Henry tells me to get over it, saying “This [the idea that only a few find the road that leads to life] discourages many: they are loath to be singular, to be solitary; but instead of stumbling at this, say rather, If so few are going to heaven, there shall be one the more for me.”

I take comfort in the fact that over the course of human history, there seem to be people who have found the road that leads to life.  There seem to be people who have found the true path.  These people are often called saints.  Steps to Knowledge calls them “people who have reached Knowledge.”

“There is a way to Knowledge. It requires skill and desire. Both will take time to develop.You must learn to value the true and not to value the false, and it takes time to learn to separate the two and to recognize them. It takes time to learn that the false does not satisfy you and that the true does satisfy you. This must be learned through trial and error and through contrast. As you approach Knowledge, your life becomes more full, more certain and more direct. As you go away from it, you reenter confusion, frustration and anger.” (Steps to Knowledge, Step 37, “There is a way to Knowledge”)

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.