For the next six months this column will be written by Edith Schaeffer, who with her husband operates L’Abri Fellowship in Huemoz, Switzerland. The column will retain the name given it by the late Dr. L. Nelson Bell, who wrote it for sixteen years.
People are quick to jump into a place of judgment of others, feeling that they are secure on some sort of a platform from which they look down. Somehow the discussion of another person’s faults seems to keep the one speaking, or thinking, out of the searchlight of inspection. It is easier to hide from one’s own memories of sins and shortcomings when one is in the middle of accusing someone else.
In Romans Paul speaks of this sort of thing with tremendous force: “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things” (Rom. 2:1). This strikes everyone who will listen. When we wallow in judgment of others, we are condemning ourselves. The things we so piously pick out to judge, gathering our self-righteousness around us like a protective blanket, are the very things, God says, that will come around and hit us. “And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?” (Rom. 1:3).
These are sobering words. To think of judging other human beings, and being in the position of condemning oneself point by point, is a fearful thought. Yet we easily push this away from our minds and conversations, and carelessly indulge in outlining lists that could be presented to us in a different context when suddenly we are the ones to be judged, rather than the judge!
There is another kind of judgment and criticism ...1