Sunday, 12 November 2017

Is it Biblical to Judge Others?

Imagine for a moment a knock at your door. You open it and there is a police officer standing there with your children (if you don’t have children, then imagine this with two younger siblings). He explains that one of your kids was caught shoplifting and the owner of the store didn't want to press charges, but wanted you to know what they did. 

The police officer leaves and you begin your own interrogation. During this discussion you find out only one of your kids committed the crime, but the other stood by and watched. As the parent you need to decide: Ultimately, who should get the punishment? 

Answer: Both.

Why? 

Because one cannot stand idly by while witnessing their sibling commit a crime and not try to talk them out of it. Would it have been casting judgement from one sibling to the other? Nope. It would have been a rescue operation to attempt to save the other sibling from going down the wrong path. 

Using this analogy let's dig in to all things “judgement”. Please hear me when I say that I’m not about to say what I’m about to say because I have it all figured out and therefore can point fingers. I am speaking to you from a sinner’s point of view. As the great hymn writer, Robert Robinson, once wrote I am, "Prone to leave the God I love." I am rebellious by nature, I can't help it. I am human. 

Let’s continue then…

It is a ploy of the Devil to silence us as we watch our sisters and brothers run wildly towards the cliff of destruction under the false pretense that we are not to “judge”, or that only God can judge. 

Most often, it is Matthew 7 that is quoted to keep us from passing judgement:

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:1-3) 

But then what about 1 Corinithians 5:12-13?

"For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Cor 5:12-13 ESV)

There is a distinction between the two when you look at both chapters. We cannot isolate one or throw out the one we do not like. We are to sometimes judge and sometimes not. For this post, let’s focus on when and why we can judge as I believe it is important, overlooked, and difficult to navigate through. 

First, the important part to note in this passage is that we are to judge our sisters and brothers in Christ. In other words, if you make the claim to be a professing Christian you are called to judge others who also are making claim to being a professing Christian. Paul did this often as we saw in the above passage in his letter to the Corinthians.

Now that we know the who let’s look at how and why...

The word “judge” can bring about all types of feelings inside of us. If you look it up in the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary you get this definition:

“The process of forming an opinion or evaluation by discerning and comparing careful judgment of the odds.”

Now look at what happens if you flip to the Urban Dictionary to see just how far we have taken that word:

 “A way of making ones self feel better, by hurting others. Usually caused by closed mindedness, and a lack of manners.”

The word judge comes from the Greek word Kreeno. Let’s see what that word actually means:

“To pronounce an opinion concerning right and wrong.”

When we look at the actual biblical context we can see that this is not something that comes from a place of hurting others, or to empower yourself by making others look bad.

Here’s the thing, we belong to each other. God GAVE us each other. Why? I’m betting that you don’t remember the last time you heard God’s audible voice. However, I’m most certain that you remember the last time you heard the voice of your family member or good friend. If you are waiting for the moment when God audibly shows up to tell your best friend to stop doing drugs, or cheating on taxes, or being promiscuous than you may be waiting awhile. He could do it, but that’s one reason why he gave us to each other: to be His voice in our generation and in our sphere of influence.

He didn’t leave us hanging either. The Bible is made up of two canons (the Old Testament and the New Testament). The word canon comes from a Greek word that means "rule" or “measuring stick”. Therefore, the measure by which we can check the actions and words of others is by the word of God himself as found in the Bible. 

 His word are not arbitrary, or because he likes rules, but, like a good parent, he gives us rules and commands to abide by to keep us safe. 

What if we were to replace the term “judgment” with “protection”? Can you protect your friend? Would you protect your sister or brother from making a bad choice that could have life-long, or even eternal consequences? Of course you would!

Judgment does not need to come from a pedestal of, “I’ve got it all figured out so listen to me.” Judgement comes from the place of, “I see you running towards destruction, and I don’t want to lose you.” It comes from a place of love. 

We need to remove the thought that judgement is not loving. 

In fact, for those relationships that exist inside the body of Christ, it is all about love. 

If you see me running toward the pit of Hell away from God’s commands, pull me aside and judge my actions and words. Measure me against the Word of God. You would be doing me an injustice to watch me throw away my eternity! So judge away! 

Next time you are a witness to a Heavenly sibling walking towards destruction and you think, “Who am I to judge?”--remember this: If you are a child of God, then you have received the same Spirit that Jesus had to steer lost souls away from the cliff and into His Kingdom. Now open your mouth and save a sister or brother!

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