Whether Judgment and Condemnation Accord with the Gospel?

Objection: It seems that judgment according to works, especially condemnation of the evil-doers, conflicts with the Gospel. For the Gospel seems to preach only mercy and to condemn pharisaical self-righteousness.

On the contrary: St. Paul preaches, in Rom 2:

Who will render to every man according to his works. To them indeed, who according to patience in good work, seek glory and honour and incorruption, eternal life: But to them that are contentious, and who obey not the truth, but give credit to iniquity, wrath and indignation. Tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that worketh evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek. But glory, and honour, and peace to every one that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.

St. Paul preaches that this judgment is according to his Gospel. Furthermore, our Lord himself is the source behind the Gospel, and he preaches that he will judge the living and the dead. We confess this, furthermore, in the creed.

Judgment is the good act of the righteous ruler doing his duty. To fail in judgment is rebellion against the law. “But who cares about the pharisaical law”? Not all law is pharisaical. Rather, true law is the right ordinance of reason, directing those who must reach their end towards that end. Thus, it is an act of loving concern to lay down and point out the law, for those who are not already the end must achieve it by their actions. If they fail to achieve it by their actions, they will remain in the loneliness of their sin. Not to preach to them, to awaken them from darkness, to illumine their path towards true righteousness, not to apply the salve, not to dress the wounds, not to move them towards the good, is an act most hideous.

“But it is more hideous to yell at them about how guilty they are.” That too would be a cruelty. But listen: We do not achieve the proper virtue by a falsely balanced caricature. We achieve it by the correct via media. And that is this: The one unbreakable law is the way and condition for salvation. The medicine is informing the sinner how destructive are his wicked deeds, and how powerful is the remedy of grace, available in the saving Mysteries Christ left his Church.

Not to avail oneself and not to open to the poor sinner these saving remedies is a crime most vile, a cruelty than which a greater is difficult to fathom.

2 thoughts on “Whether Judgment and Condemnation Accord with the Gospel?

  1. Can you help me understand something? What does Our Lord mean by “judged not lest you be judged”? What kind of “judgment” is the bad kind that we’re told not to engage in?

    Thank you

    1. Good question. One suggestion is that we cannot know the heart of another. Only God can. But the heart is the heart of the matter. Thus, many saints tell us that no matter what we see someone do, we should try to understand it — if we undertake to do so — in the best light possible. Give the benefit of the doubt.

      Another suggestion is always to have a tentative sense in your judgment regarding another. We recognize that we fail to account for all the details. Perhaps also, judgment is rather a final thing. But we cannot finalize another. We need to allow for conversion. Thus, we should never identify anyone with his sin.

      But this does not mean we cannot judge the character.

      Interesting to observe: Right after this episode in the Gospel, the Lord says, “DO NOT THROW YOUR PEARLS BEFORE SWINE.” How can you know who is swine and who is not? By judging.

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