2 Kings 17:5-8, 13-15a, 18; Matthew 7:1-5
Do not judge, that you may not be judged. Is the Lord telling us to “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”, to be naive and undiscerning? Part of the prophetic role of the baptized is precisely that: to be prophetic, not to abstain from taking positions. Part of our being sent is to call evil what is evil and good what is good. But this does not necessarily mean that we have to set ourselves up as judges of others.
In the English language, a pertinent distinction is offered in the use of two different words, namely, critiquing and criticizing. They both have the same etymological root, but they have different meanings. We critique products: books, poetry, paintings, music... We critique actions, strategies, principles... The moment we pass from products to persons, from actions to agents, we are no longer critiquing, we are criticizing. And in criticizing we are setting ourselves up as judges of our brothers and sisters, we become “personal” in our passing judgment. We are able to critique products, because, at least to some extent, we can “measure” their quality. But we do not have any sure gauge to measure the intention and heart of the agent, as distinct from the action itself, and so to criticize the person.
I believe this is the context of the Lord’s injunction do not judge: do not condemn (the person), that you may not be condemned. Whether we judge/criticize or not, we are all going to be judged one day by the One, who is entitled to do so: The Father has entrusted all judgment to the Son [Jn. 5:22].
So yes, we are asked [Mt. 16:16] to be simple as doves, but shrewd as serpents. Simple toward people, but prophetically shrewd toward actions, policies, products.
By Luis Rodriguez