Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged

I used to think the phrase “Judge not lest ye be judged” means “Don’t judge other people because you then open the door to be judged yourself.”

Now I think it means “Don’t judge other people because then you will judge yourself.”

The “judgment” referred to in this phrase does not mean legal judgment exercised by a judge or a jury in a courtroom. Legal judgment is conscious and (in theory) exercised for the best interest of society.

Nor does the judgment in this phrase refer to good judgment exercised by a person facing a moral dilemma. This type of judgment is also exercised consciously and for a moral purpose.

The phrase “Judge not lest ye be judged” refers to the ego driven and shame based judgment. This judgment takes the form of criticism, gossip and complaining. This type of judgment is exercised unconsciously and does not serve a moral purpose. Its true purpose (although typically clothed in the trappings of morality) is to make the judge feel better by putting another person down.

The source of this judgment is “constant criticizer.” This is the internal voice that replays prior embarrassments in your mind, tells you that you are not allowed to do certain things or that what you are doing you are doing wrong. This constant criticism does not feel good physically and mentally. The only way to feel better is to criticize someone else.

This form of judgment generates negative emotions such as vanity, shame, defensiveness, anger and depression. These feelings are generated both in the judge and the person being judged. This negative energy feeds on itself, growing and spreading to other people creating a negative feedback loop.

I used to work with a very negative woman. She constantly criticized the company we worked for and our supervisors. She complained about the work we performed. She talked about our co-workers behind their backs. One day she came into the office with the most depressed expression on her face. I asked her what was wrong and she told me she hated herself. I realized at that point that she judged herself with the equal intensity that she judged everyone else. When I saw this in her I recognized it in myself. The constant criticizer performs both functions. In other words there is no difference between self judgment and judgment of others. It comes from the same place.

The constant criticizer is like a foreign entity that takes possession of your thought process. Because it is unconscious, if you do not make the conscious decision to not be judgmental the constant criticizer will think for you. The more you allow yourself to judge the stronger it becomes. Awareness and conscious decision-making is the key to starving the beast that is the constant criticizer.

This is what “judge not lest ye be judged” truly means. If you allow yourself to be ruled by the constant criticizer and cede control of your thought process to it you will end up judging yourself. The more you judge the stronger it becomes. Only by making the conscious decision to not be judgmental will reverse this process.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged

  1. thordaddy

    wS…

    I would offer a simply and more positive interpretation of the quote.

    Only those who have judged are competent to judge.

    Civil society needs judges IF for no other reason than a show of civility to have those who have been judged competently judging others in times of absolute necessity.

  2. thordaddy

    wS…

    Edit: Only those who have [been] judged are competent to judge.

    • I don’t think your interpretation is supported by the context within which the phrase appears in Matthew:

      Judge not, that ye be not judged.

      2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

      3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? (MT 7:1-3).

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