All Day (Monday)
Meditations for Lent By: Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet Courtesy of Sophia Institute Press Week 5: Monday Judge Not “Judge not” (Matt. 7:1). There is a Judge above you, who will judge your judgments, who will demand of
Meditations for Lent
By: Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
Courtesy of Sophia Institute Press
Week 5: Monday
“Judge not” (Matt. 7:1). There is a Judge above you, who will judge your judgments, who will demand of you an accounting of them, who will punish you for judging without authority and without understanding.
Without authority. “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls” (Rom. 14:4). It belongs to the master to judge. Do not judge those whose judge you are not. St. Paul continues: “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother?” (Rom. 14:10). He is your brother, your equal: it does not belong to you to judge him. You are both subject to the judgment of the great judge before whom all men must appear: “We shall all stand before the judgment seat of God,” and “each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:10, 12). Do not think at all about what others do; think instead about the account you must render of yourself.
St. James is no less forceful. “There is one lawgiver and judge . . . who is able to save and to destroy.” For this reason he then asks, “Who are you that you judge your neighbor?” (James 4:12). He has derived this truth from this beautiful principle: “He that speaks evil against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law” (James 4:11). For the law prohibits you from making this judgment. “But if you judge the law,” the apostle continues, “you are not a doer of the law but a judge.” You raise yourself above your measure, and the law will soon fall upon you with all of its weight, and you will be crushed by it. See with how much force the light of truth is ranged against your presumptuous judgments in these two verses.
You see that you lack proper authority to judge; now see that you also judge without understanding. You do not know the one whom you judge. You do not see into the interior. You do not know his intentions, which may perhaps justify him. And if his crime is manifest, you do not know whether he will one day repent, or whether he has already repented, or whether he is one of those whose conversions will cause great rejoicing in Heaven. Therefore do not judge.
Charity is not suspicious and does not think ill of others. Charity is mild, “patient and kind,” “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” She does not “rejoice at wrong,” but rejoices when everyone pursues the good in truth (1 Cor. 13:4-7). Charity, therefore, does not take pleasure in judging.
Much more than she judges others, charity judges and condemns herself. “You have no excuse, O man, whoever you are, when you judge another; for in passing judgment upon him you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things” (Rom. 2:1). You judge yourself by your own mouth, and you pronounce your own sentence. “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get” (Matt. 7:2).
If at the end of our life we would hear, “You will not be judged” (cf. Matt. 7:1), we must judge not.