That’s how we should be with respect to ourselves and to the others. We need to be strict with ourselves but always accommodating with the others. First, because the person we would know best would simply be ourselves, while with the others we ought to be more restrained in our judgments.
In fact, we need to be always nice to others, even if they are not nice to us. We should always give them the benefit of the doubt. Besides, we really would not know them very well. Most of the time, we can only base our impressions of the others mainly on appearances which can never give us a good over-all picture of how they really are.
It’s very likely that we hardly would have the inside story of their life. And whatever traces of other people’s inside story we may have are most likely unreliable, based only on hearsay and gossip.
But, yes, with ourselves, we should be very demanding. We should be strict to adhere to the difference between good and evil, pursuing the former no matter how little it is, and avoiding the latter no matter how slight it may be. But such strict adherence should not make us judgmental of the others.
If ever we have some observations that point to a certain weakness, failure, mistake or sin of the others, let’s remember that those are observations only which can be at best tentative. And rather than be quick to judge, let us focus more on how we can help them.
That attitude would indicate that we are still clear about the difference between right and wrong. Of course, this difference should be based on our identification with Christ who is the ultimate judge to know what is right and wrong.
Let us remember that we see and judge things the way we are. If we are simply by ourselves, relying only on our estimation of what is right and wrong, then definitely we cannot go far. But if we try our best to be identified with Christ, then we can see and judge things the way Christ would see and judge them.
And so, if we are truly like Christ, our strictness in knowing the difference between right and wrong would not lead us to be judgmental, but rather to be charitable, finding ways of how to help the others. That’s because that is how Christ treats others.
On this point, we can cite the reaction of Christ who was presented with a woman who was caught in adultery. The woman clearly committed some grave wrong. But instead of condemning her, he simply dismissed her with the admonition to sin no more. (cfr. Jn 8,1-11)
We have to be most wary of our tendency to be quick to judge and condemn others when we feel we know a lot about what is right and wrong, good and evil. This can only mean we are not with Christ yet.
Of course, we should also be wary of our tendency to lose sight of the distinction between right and wrong, good and evil, often appealing to God’s mercy, because that would only show that we are neither with Christ truly.
When we are with Christ, we would be strict and demanding on ourselves with respect to what is right and wrong, but at the same time, tolerant, understanding, quick to forgive and help others when we see their defects and misdeeds.*