Consequences of Judging Others

Father Faber observes: “A man is very much himself what he thinks of others. . . . When you hear a man attribute meanness to another, you may be sure, not only that the critic is an ill-natured man, but that he has got a similar element of meanness in himself, or is fast sinking to it. A man is always capable himself of a sin which he thinks another is capable of, or which he himself is capable of imputing to another.”

“Furthermore, our hidden judgments of others are, almost with a show of special and miraculous interference, visited upon ourselves. Virtue grows in us under the influence of kindly judgments, as if they were its nutriment. But in the case of harsh judgments we find we often fall into the sin of which we have judged another guilty, although it is not perhaps a sin at all common to ourselves. Or, if matters do not go so far as this, we find ourselves suddenly overwhelmed with a tempest of unusual temptations, and on reflection conscience is ready to remind us that the sin to which we are thus violently and unexpectedly tempted is one which we have of late been uncharitably attributing to others. Sometimes also we are ourselves falsely accused and widely believed to be guilty of some fault of which we are quite innocent; but it is a fault of which we have recently, in our mind at least, accused another.”

“Moreover, the truth or falsehood of our judgments seem to have very little to do with the matter. The truth of them does not protect us from their unpleasant consequences; just as the truth of a libel is no sufficient defence of it. It is the uncharitableness of the judgment, or the judging at all, to which this self-avenging power is fastened. It works itself out like a law, quietly but infallibly.”

“The practice of kind thoughts is our main help to that complete government of the tongue which we all so much covet, and without which the Apostle says that our religion is vain. The interior beauty of a soul through habitual kindliness of thought is greater than our words can tell. To such a man life is a perpetual bright evening, with all things calm and fragrant and restful. The dust of life is laid, and its fever cool. All sounds are softer, as in the way of evening, and all sights are fairer, and the golden light makes our enjoyment of earth a happily pensive preparation for heaven.”

Quotations from Frederick William Faber, Kindness (London: R. & T. Washbourne, 1901).

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