The sin of judging others is the most abhorrent sin. This is confirmed by the following story. The venerable John the Sinaite tells the following: “Once there came to me a monk from the neighboring monastery and I asked him - how are the fathers doing? He replied: very well, by your prayers. Then I asked him about a monk of ill repute, and the guest said to me: he hasn’t changed at all, father! Hearing that, I exclaimed: too bad! and as soon as I said that, I immediately felt myself as though in a state of rapture, and I saw Jesus Christ, crucified between two thieves. I made a move to worship the Saviour, but He suddenly turned to the angels surrounding Him and said to them: expel this man, for he condemned his brother before My judgment. And when I was being expelled in accordance with the Lord’s command, my mantle was left in the doorway, and then I came to my senses. Woe is me! - I said then to the visiting brother, - what a terrible day for me! Why so? - asked the latter. Then I told him about my vision and explained to him that my mantle having been left behind signified that I was deprived of God’s help and protection. And from that time I spent seven years in deep repentance, until I once more saw my Lord, Who gave me back my mantle.”
Thus you can see, brethren, how heavy and abhorrent is the sin of judging others! But as heavy as is the sin, so, on the contrary, to live in humility and forgiveness and to refrain from judging others is just as saving. Here is an example:
A certain monk, who had spent his life in idleness, became mortally ill. When he was on the brink of death, the brothers surrounded his bed and watched in great amazement how joyful and carefree he was even in his last hour. One of the elders asked him: “Brother! We know that you have lived a life of negligence and idleness, so tell us - why even now, at the hour of death, you have not a single care for yourself and gaze upon us so merrily?” The dying monk replied: “I have truly led an ill life, fathers. But from the time that I became a monk, I have never judged anyone. And just now I have seen the angels bring in a record of my sins, and for my forgiving nature tear it up before my eyes. For this reason I am departing with such joy to go to the Lord.”
Thus, hearing this, brethren, judge not, and ye shall not be judged; and condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned (Luke 6:37). Amen.
Protopriest Victor Guryev - “Prologue in homilies”.
Why do we judge our brethren? Because we do not make an attempt to know ourselves. Whoever is busy trying to gain knowledge of oneself, such a one has no time to look at others. Judge your own self and you will cease to judge others.
We must look upon ourselves as the greatest of sinners and we must forgive our brethren for their bad deeds, while hating only the devil who has tempted them. It happens that someone’s deeds may seem to us to be bad, while in reality they are good because of the good intentions of the doer. Moreover, the door of repentance is open to all, and you do know who will enter it first - you, who are judging, or the one who is being judged by you.
You may judge a bad deed, but do not judge the doer of it. If you pass judgment on your neighbor, teaches us the venerable Antioch, together with him you yourself will be judged for the very deed you are judging.
Saint Seraphim of Sarov.