Insanity is defined by law as the inability to discern right from wrong. But Jesus said:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1-2)
Jesus was not commanding us to stop evaluating what it is right and wrong to do. He was instructing us not to look down upon others with condemnation or condescension, as though we were in a position to pronounce judgment upon their souls. Of course we are meant to use our God-given capacity to discern. But we are not to act as though we have the knowledge and insight into another person’s background and thinking which God alone possesses. Jesus says such judgmental attitudes set us up to be judged with the same harsh measure.
Judged by others? Certainly! You know how harshly clergy are judged in moral failure, especially when they have adopted a “holier than thou” attitude. Judged by God? Jesus does not say. But this statement is similar to what He said about praying for forgiveness:
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:14-15 )
Jesus taught us a radical standard of righteousness in this same sermon, and urged us to aspire to it. But, when measured against the righteousness of God, none of us can rightfully look down on others with scorn or condemnation. Another time, Jesus illustrated how wrong-headed such attitudes really are:
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14)