Hi, my name is Father Mike Schmitz. Sorry,
that’s just *mumbles* (overly enunciating) Sorry. Red leather, yellow leather. Red leather, yellow leather. How now, brown cow? Hi, my name’s Father Mike Schmitz and
this is Ascension Presents. So you, I’m sure, I’m sure that you had this experience,
where you have some kind of discussion with someone who’s not Catholic or
they’re not a Christian. Maybe they’re not even a theist, maybe they’re an
atheist and at some point, the topic of morality, the issue of morality comes up and
you might say, “Well, I think that’s wrong. That behavior is, is wrong.” And someone quotes the favorite quote of the Bible for basically non-Bible believing people, is wait, what about, “Thou shalt not judge?” How about, “Judge not lest ye be judged,”
and that’s what Jesus said. And it’s in chapter seven of Matthew’s Gospel.
I’d say, “Yes, it is in chapter seven of Matthew’s Gospel.” So here’s the question:
Can Christians judge? The answer is kind of complicated because whereas Jesus does command us not to judge, he also commands us to judge. Here’s what I mean. When Jesus tells us, you know, again in chapter seven of Matthew’s Gospel, “stop judging, lest ye be judged,” you know, to take the speck out of your eye before you try to take the plank out of your neighbor’s eye, your brother’s eye, he’s commanding and prohibiting us from judging the HEART of a person, from judging the heart of a person and condemning them which makes complete sense because we can never know the heart of a person, right? We, we actually don’t have that kind of information.
We don’t have that access to that data and so we can’t judge the heart of a person. But Jesus also commands us to judge the
actions of a person in the exact same Gospel. Yeah, in fact, it’s in the exact same chapter. “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but underneath they’re ravenous wolves.” Here’s what he goes on to say, “by their fruits, you will know them. Just so,” you know goes on, “every good tree bears good fruit and every rotten tree bears bad fruit.” A good tree cannot bear good fruit and bad tree
cannot bear bad fruit. He’s saying judge people by their actions.
Judge, now, not PEOPLE. Judge where they’re at, whether they’re trustworthy or not, by what they’re doing. So, Jesus actually teaches us and commands us, we have to make a distinction, right? We have to make a distinction between good and evil,
between good and bad fruit. So Christians, we’re prohibited, absolutely prohibited, from condemning someone’s heart or from condemning or from judging someone’s heart, because we don’t have access to that information, but we CAN judge actions, as like, that was not right. And we do this on a daily basis, right? I mean just, it’s a wise thing to do. I mean, if you’re a parent, you make that distinction and you say, “Well, I don’t want my children to play with the kids down the street that I know are engaged in bad actions.” That mom and dad, your daughter says,
“Hey, can I have a sleepover at so-and-so’s house?” And you’re like, “OK, I know about that person, and I know that it would not be good, wouldn’t be wise for my daughter to hang out with that person.” Same thing if like, gentlemen, if this girl asked you out on a date and you know for a fact, that like, no actually, she … we know that she regularly lies so I’m not gonna believe her, I’m not gonna trust her with my heart. Same kind of thing like if you’re entering into a business relationship or business partnership with someone, you wouldn’t just say, “Well, I don’t want to … I know you’ve embezzled money in the past, but I don’t want to judge and I don’t want to say that’s wrong, so I’ll just enter into business relationship with you now.” It doesn’t make any sense and we know that. So when it comes to the moral life, we’re also called to do that, right, not to judge hearts, but to be able to assess, discern, and judge actions. I’ll get emails. I’ll get messages from people all the time
who say like, “OK, so can I tell you something and promise me you won’t judge me?” We have this really, really crazy, I would even actually say, irrational, fear of judgment from other people. And I remember a priest buddy of mine telling me, he said that we live in an age where, in a culture where nothing is wrong but everyone is deathly afraid of being judged. Think about that: isn’t that true in our culture? Like we’ve tried to strip away right from wrong and we live in this culture where no, nothing’s wrong, whatever you want! Just go ahead and do this, but everyone walks around deathly afraid of being judged. I think one of the reasons is because
we’re so disconnected, right? We’re disconnected from people who truly love us. We’re disconnected from people who have stable relationships with us. Our families are fractured and so we live these lives that are disconnected, but even more fully, we don’t know who we are and because we don’t know who we are,
we don’t know what our identity is. We don’t know who our dad is.
We don’t know our deep worth. And so, if I think that someone’s judging me and I haven’t discovered my true identity in Jesus as a son or daughter of God then, yes, that’s gonna be the worst thing possible. It’s gonna be the scariest thing imaginable, because you’re stripping me of who I think I am. You’re basing a judgment off of me, off of my actions or off what you think my actions are and so then, judgment can be very intimidating and can be very scary. But here what, here’s where as Christians,
we don’t need to be afraid of judgment. We don’t need to be afraid of someone looking at our actions or looking—even pretending—to look at our hearts and judging our actions. We can say, “I know who I am. I know who my dad in heaven is and so, I’m not afraid of your judgment. I AM very, very concerned with God’s judgment of me. I’m very concerned, in fact, maybe I would even say very afraid of God’s judgment of me.” That’s why we have the great consolation of God’s mercy and God’s love for us as well. At the heart of all this, you know, this fear of judgment, I think, it’s a fear that we’re not lovable, but here’s the good news of Jesus: You are lovable, even, even *laughs* when you do stuff wrong, that you are loved by him, even when others may discern that you’re not
worthy of their love, that in all things, in your successes and your failures, in your strength and in your weakness, the Father speaks over you and says,
“You are mine and you are loved.” So you don’t need to be afraid of judgment. But also, because we’ve been loved by our Father, we’re called to love others, even when they are weak and even when they fail. But we are called to discern actions and tell the truth about them. So we’re called to judge and told not to judge. We have to do it in the right way. From all of us here at Ascension Presents, my name’s Father Mike. God bless.