The quote in question

Months ago I found this quote in a book, and ever since it has hung above my kitchen sink, the place where I find it easiest to brood and stew. It’s been a reminder I need.

Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself. It takes one to know one. Judgmental criticism of others is a well-known way of escaping detection in your own crimes and misdemeanors.

What do you think? Is it true?

If you were taking a guess at the kind of book it comes from, what would you say?

(No fair Googling!)

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Carla Zehr
6 years ago

Growing up, the phrases “it takes one to know one” and “what you say is what you are” were standard comebacks to a sibling’s criticism. They implied “you aren’t any better, so I don’t need to listen on you.”

I know that some of the criticisms towards dating people and parents that I fostered in my early adult years came back to bite me when I entered those stages myself.

Geryll opened my eyes to some of my judgmental lyrics critical attitudes. But, I think in trying to correct, I’ve sometimes gone too far in trying to say everything is ok, it’s just my attitude that’s the problem.

Ok, I don’t know where to stop. This is why I don’t comment often enough! I always feel like I didn’t explain myself well enough.

6 years ago
Reply to  Carla Zehr

I think I get what you are saying! I would love to know how to balance that… I don’t want to be judgmental, but how do I keep from being judgmental while also being honest about the reality of what other people are and do? Still learning that.

6 years ago

I’ve been looking at Galatians 1:1 again recently – perhaps the process of moving toward active and gentle restoration of another calls us closer to “considering ourselves”…. a private critical attitude is passive – gentle restoration is active… what might happen to our criticisms if we chose to reach out rather than arbor within?

That would be “harbor” within … is that a archaic word? spell check auto corrected…. but I wax prolific too… 🙂 Carla and I should get together 🙂

6 years ago
Reply to  Shari Zook

Thoughts I can’t pull together that relate to this:

Isn’t it the private, passive, criticisms that leave us making commitments to “Never be like that ourselves”. Then the same measure I use to judge is the measure I am judged with when I later find myself doing what I committed not to.

Ryan also talked about ” a spirit of meekness considering yourself lest you also be tempted”. It’s ok to remove the moat in your brother’s eye if you first get the beam out of your own. (But how do I know if I’ve gotten the beam out!)

6 years ago

Just guessing the source is “Jesus Calling.” Or maybe one of the Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency books, where Mma Ramotswe likes to say, “That is well known.”
I think it is true, in its way, but if it hung over my kitchen sink in February, I would “brood and stew” obsessively.
In May, I can discern a bit better between speaking truth and judgmental criticism.

6 years ago

Wow! This fits right in my thoughts this morning. That statement could come from one kind of book or another. Now I’m curious. I may wax eloquent here too. We’ve been working through a situation where a lot of wrong assumptions were made. We just called them “assumptions”. So I asked Thomas are all assumptions wrong? Is it a negative word? He wondered if good assumptions would be what we call giving someone the benefit of the doubt? As I pondered, I realized it’s a problem we all have that the enemy takes advantage of. We hear something (said to us, about us, to others or whatever) and build a huge case on it. It hurts to have someone bring that case, that they’ve built up, and dump it on you. But Thomas reminds me, “There must be something to it, if they saw something. We need to search our lives.” Bless my dear husband with his open mind and humble heart. Our “criticisms” must be laced with prayer and humility and brought under the spotlight of God’s truth before we bring them out in the open. And then only straight to the person himself. I’m preaching at myself. So yes, I agree with said quote, in the right perspective. 🙂 Thank you for posting it.

6 years ago

Is this saying every time we criticize someone, it’s about something we have trouble with in our own life? I think that’s an over-simplification, but it IS often true. If the quote is simply saying we criticize in general to make ourselves feel better, then yes! I agree!

I’d venture a guess about the book it comes from, but we’ve had a comment conversation about the book before so I feel like I’d be cheating. 🙂

6 years ago

So, I agree and disagree. I agree that the most judgmental people usually cannot see their own flaws. Yet, this quote implies that one cannot look at a situation and say something is wrong. (Perhaps I am the one that is wrong, with my assumption!) I find it difficult to voice what I see going on in people’s lives because I assume people with position will tell me I am wrong. I grew up thinking I could not be right and that I didn’t know anything and that I couldn’t say it when something was truly wrong. It distorted my perception of reality. Now i am (grownup) and in a situation where there is truly wrong things and yet it has taken me years to actually admit that, yes, these things are wrong, even if all the puppet’s heads are moving up and down. That make any sense?

6 years ago

I -for one- know that I have at times heaped condemnation on myself because of my own critical spirit.

Something I read years ago that I have never forgotten is this (or something very similar to this): ” If it is very painful for you to criticize your friend-you’re safe in doing it. But, if you take the slightest pleasure in it, that is the time to hold your tongue”

While not Scripture, it has been a good guiding principal for me.

However, I do realize that in nearly every situation you will have two camps of people who will give you opposing feedback: 1. Those who praise you for speaking truth 2. Those who criticize you for being judgmental.

I truly do not know what to do with all that. It has been the cause of short term digestive issues for me as a pastor’s wife. 🙂

6 years ago

This is very good food for thought. What else is hanging by your kitchen sink????

6 years ago

Hm, I would agree with it if it said, “often when you criticize someone, you’re showing what you dislike about yourself. It takes one to know one. Judgmental criticism of others is an obviously ineffective way to escape detection in your own crimes and misdemeanors.”

Hard to guess what kind of book it’s from; my first guess would be a religious self-help book, but the “crimes and misdemeanors” phrase is oddly strong. This is hard. Maybe it’s a quote of some judge’s sentencing? Or maybe it’s directed to young people. My best guess would be some kind of handbook for troubled kids. Now I’ll read what everyone else is saying.

6 years ago

Which is why we confess our faults to each other, that we may be forgiven. I am most sensitive to the sins in others that I myself am most prone to commit.

6 years ago

The quote is very thought provoking and it made me feel quite guilty reading it.
What I really need to confess, without being judged, is my use of Google. 🙂

6 years ago

Without further context,the quote strikes me as…ah, that which should be casually and quickly dismissed. It actually does have a core of truth, and I tend toward a broad-spectrum “assume the best, and accommodate diverse sets of strengths and weaknesses” philosophy. But acknowledging that someone’s actions or views may make sense to them in their own framework doesn’t mean that you don’t, at times, have the responsibility to publicly criticize or act in opposition based on your own moral/ethical framework. But on the other (third?) hand, criticism of problematic behaviors and ideas should be a peripheral consequence of a positive vision, and deployed in a time and manner likely to actually effect positive change–in the subject, or in others.

As to source…I’d guess Norman Vincent Peape, Dale Carnegie, or another pop-psych-for-success writer.

6 years ago
Reply to  Joel

You got me. 🙂

6 years ago

Is there a big difference in saying, “You seem to be struggling in this area, how can I help you?” OR “You did this, it means you have this in your heart, you need to do this to fix it, or this will happen to you.” It seems like one is burden bearing, and the other…well, you know.
It helps to know each other well. Sometimes someone is struggling because of too much criticism, and they don’t need more. Maybe criticism in one’s life is a bit like pepper on a fried egg. A little is helpful, but give someone a whole flock of pepper shakers in action, and they might be asking for a new egg to fry.
I hope this isn’t a foolish question that genders strife, but is it judgemental to label someone as judgemental?

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