This passage comes to us from John Jacob Raub’s 1992 book, Who Told You That You Were Naked: Freedom from Judgment, Guilt and Fear of Punishment. Raub is a Trappist Monk from the Abbey of Gethsemani, the abbey Thomas Merton called home. The book, so far, is a deep dive into the helpful waters of psychological Christianity, and his distinction between evaluation and condemnation has been particularly helpful:

Jesus said, “Do not judge” (Mt 7:1), but just what type of judging was he prohibiting? Certainly we are to make practical judgments. We judge to say “this” rather than “that,” “do this,” “go there,” “work here.” We are also required to make moral judgments. We judge some behavior as good, other behavior as bad, some actions life giving, others destructive. Our lives are made up of these practical and moral judgments. Obviously, Jesus was not using the word “judge” in these commonly understood ways.

In the New Testament the Greek word that we translate “to judge” literally means to decide, to cut off, or simply to separate. And included in separation is the notion of condemnation and punishment. In Scripture, therefore, the most common understanding of the word “judge” is to separate and condemn. Accordingly, in the New Testament “judge” and “condemn” are used interchangeably. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged” can also be translated “Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.” St. Paul’s words, “In passing judgment on another you are condemning yourself” (Rm 2:1) can also be said, “In condemning another you are judging yourself.” When Jesus said “Do not judge,” he was prohibiting judging in this sense of separation and condemnation. […]

We must indeed make “judgments” concerning human behavior and the morality of situations; we must “judge” between good and evil. However, in saying this we are not using “judge” in the scriptural, and therefore spiritual, sense. We are not cutting off people or situations. For clarity’s sake it may be better to refer to our practical and moral “judgments” as evaluations rather than judgments. We can and must “judge” in the sense of evaluating, but not in the sense of condemning and separating. To make a distinction between evaluation and judgment may seem like idle semantics. But there is a significant difference between “judging” and evaluation and judging as condemnation.

Evaluation accepts life with the good and bad. Condemnation blocks out the bad portions. The first calls for a response, the second for denial. To evaluate a person or situation is to come to terms with it, to accept its existence. To judge is to attempt to reduce that which is to nothing, to cut off its existence.

Evaluation is thus discernment, seeking or understanding what is. St. Paul tells us we are “to discern good and evil” (Hb 5:14). Such discernment keeps us in reality and is life giving. On the other hand, judging is deadly, precisely because it separates us from reality. […]

“Faith’s name for reality is God.” This somewhat startling statement of the Anglican theologian John Macquarrie is not only correct, but also fundamental. It brings home to us the truth that God can only be found in reality and nowhere else. God cannot tell his children in what is not. God can be Father to us only in what is. Our connection with God is our acceptance of reality.

This acceptance does not mean we see bad as good, or wrongs as right. It does not mean that we are to be passive or indifferent before life. On the contrary, true acceptance of life may heighten an awareness of our obligation to change in certain situations. Acceptance of reality means simply that we acknowledge that “this is!” Right or wrong, good or bad, “this is!”

It demands that we completely accept the fact that something exists. The necessity of such an acceptance may seem obvious, for what other options do we have? In principle it is obvious, but in practice we often avoid acceptance by judging or separating out of reality parts that we find distasteful. (p. 38-40)