As we begin a new week, we are told,
Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.
We have heard this reading so often that the gravity of it may not register as it should. Perhaps if we write the other side we can hear it better.
Judge and you will be judged. Condemn and you will be condemned. Do not forgive, and you will not be forgiven.
We have all grown up so much on the image of the last judgement that we simply assume that judgement is inevitable. And yet, unless Jesus is lying, we can be spared that judgement. All we have to do is stop judging. Easier said than done. But it can be done. Like everything it requires practice.
The easiest first step may be external. When that judging thought about someone else enters our mind, stop it before we speak it or write it. Don't let it into the external world. If we stop nourishing our judgements thoughts over time they will die. We can turn not judging into a habit.
Does this mean that the temptation to judge and condemn will go away? No. In this life we are always going to face temptation, but we can make huge progress. And there is no better time than Lent to do.
Start with one day. Today. Try your best to live this one day without speaking or writing one judging or condemning comment about another person. It is not impossible, if we believe.