AT a recent Wednesday evening meeting of The Mother Church these words of the Master were read: "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned;" also that other command,"Judge righteous judgment;" and the selections from Science and Health included some passages at the beginning of the chapter on Christian Science Practice concerning the Master's scientific treatment of the one known as Mary Magdalene. These readings recalled questions frequently asked as to whether criticism and condemnation of others hinders one's own progress toward health and harmony. It would be difficult to put into briefer or more emphatic words the harm that comes from criticism, either of one's self or of others, than did the Master in that forceful command, "Condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned." The original meaning of the word condemn is interesting, derived as it is from the Latin prefix con, and damnare, which means to harm, censure, reproach, or damn. So Jesus demands that one shall not condemn others, lest he himself be condemned.
Perhaps the import of these words may be explained and made practical by an illustration. If on a western prairie, where the railroad follows a straight line for miles, one should look up the track, it would seem as if the rails came together. Were one to condemn the railroad authorities for allowing such a condition, he would only be condemning himself, for under that false judgment he would never board a railroad train for fear of impending disaster. Thus one suffers from unfair condemnation until he judges "righteous judgment," and this cannot be done until the erroneous testimony of the material senses is corrected by the truth. Just so in all departments of life, when one harshly criticizes or condemns another, he is not judging rightly, but merely shutting himself out from the healing benefits of divine Love. Right judgment recognizes all men as brothers, and in their true selfhood as children of God. The mistakes which mortals make— and all have need of forgiveness—are not to be relentlessly charged against them; and one who realizes this will out of his generosity and kindliness refuse to condemn, and patiently await better conditions.
The command "Judge not" was not intended to forbid the exercise of wisdom and prudence in the affairs of life. This counsel is to be recalled in connection with the words already quoted, "Judge righteous judgment," and to do this is constantly to use intelligence in all our dealings with others. Jesus exemplified the command "Judge not" when one said, "Speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me;" for he replied, "Who made me a judge or a divider over you?" Here he refused to become a law for one, or to take from another the privilege of deciding for himself. On the other hand, when a woman "which was a sinner" came before him in the house of Simon, the Master's host evidently expected him to pass a severe judgment upon her. He judged not, and yet he did "judge righteous judgment;" and this was followed by the uplifting of the outcast. If we are right in concluding that this woman was Mary Magdalene, we read that she became a faithful follower of Christ Jesus and was the last at the cross and the first at the tomb.