It is impossible for us to judge fully but it is impossible for us not to judge at all. I take this from my understanding of the word. As I understand, to judge something or someone means to determine what is either…
1) Correct and incorrect
“Why is it impossible to judge fully,” you ask? The reason being is we are finite. We have our limits and since judging is a primarily mental task our focus is on our limited knowledge. This is especially true when we look to judge a person, their actions, or their situations. We do not, and cannot, fully know all the details in order to make a pure and fair judgement. This is why we can only rest assured in God’s judgment being fair. He alone knows all and therefore alone possess the ability of being a righteous judge. His judgment is something that we will all face (Romans 14:9-13, Hebrews 9:27).
“Why, then, is it impossible to not judge at all,” you say? It’s because we make choices all the time. If you again refer to my definition it is basically judging between things and making a selection. Now, it may be a little cut and dry or a bit to much categorizing for you but all in all its about making decisions on things. Do you agree or do you not agree with me? You just made a judgment right there. That’s how easy it is to judge. In fact, you can’t go through life without making judgements on many things. What to eat, where to go, and what to do are very important actions for life and in life.
What about judging people though? We shouldn’t do that, right? That’s hard enough not to do either. We make choices about who we like and who we don’t like even when we are infants. We start out that way because some things scare us and make us want to protect ourselves. As we grow older this is reinforced by being taught not to talk to strangers. Then it is laid on us to decide who is a stranger and what makes them a stranger. Further development of the idea of judging people then comes very strongly advocated by everybody (that’s a strong assertion) because we always judge people, at least a persons actions or mindset, as a good example or bad example. Something we should do or something that we should not do. That’s a judgment. It’s inescapable. It even comes down to whether a persons character or nature is judged as evil or a bad example that should not be followed. In fact, I don’t know very many people that would judge Hitlers of the world as good but rather as being evil or bad.
So, how do we live in this tension of, “I don’t want to judge but its impossible.” How can we people that are limited in our knowledge, abilities, and are prone to error and hypocrisy, judge as rightly as we can? We need a rubric, a ruler, something outside of ourselves. If we are just heaps of carbon atoms and other various elements that came together by change then it really doesn’t matter what we do. In all seriousness, if there is nothing but physical matter and just what we see then all this talk doesn’t matter. That would mean in reality no good, no bad, and no evil. It’s just whatever we make things out to be. Except we can’t get away, in any society, from making decisions that ultimately say something is either right or wrong and good or evil.
How do we make better judgements. It has to be something outside of us then that isn’t subject to error and is not limited. C.S. Lewis writes in Mere Christianity, “All I have got to is a Something which is directing the universe, and which appears in me as a law urging me to do right and making me feel responsible and uncomfortable when I do wrong.” He was describing the fact that man in every society has felt the weight of right and wrong. Eventually he would bring it out that this is the Christian God, the in every way infinite and self-sustaining being. The only way we can do better is by God’s help. The way God helps us in matters of judging is by the written Word of God.
The Word of God is that rubric by which we are able to make correct judgement in life. It encourages us judge correctly and with a pure heart. Only by what is contained in its page are we able to make righteous judgments. For it is the word of God, the mind of God. It warns us not to judge hypocritically in Matthew 6:1-5, “Judge not, that ye be not judged,” meaning with the severeness of our hypocritical judgment we will be judged righteousness. Yet, that does not mean we are not to judge. As I finish, look at just a sampling of the scripture on making judgments on things, actions, and yes, sometimes, people.
Lewis, C. S. (2009-05-28). Mere Christianity (p. 25). Harper Collins, Inc..