Wednesday, June 22, 2016
One of the most misused phrases I hear is, “We should not judge people.” What does it mean to judge another? In what way are we not to judge, and is there an appropriate way to judge others? I am sure this blog will get a lot of discussion. Please email me your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just this morning in my quiet time, I read the following passage: “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (Jn. 7:24). As always, Jesus gives the perfect balance on a controversial topic: do not judge in one sense, but do judge in the proper sense.
How are we not to judge another? Improper judgment is assuming something negative about another when I don’t know for a fact it is true. For example, if I say that someone leads worship on Sunday because they want to be seen as super-spiritual, that is wrongly judging them because I do not know their true motive. Or if I see someone who is full of tattoos and conclude that he/she is rebellious, that is equally wrong. I do not know their true reason for getting tattoos.
On the other hand, Jesus tells us to “judge with right judgment.” What does it mean to properly “judge” another? As Christians we are to be like Jesus, and Jesus called out sin and confronted sin, but He always did so in love and with the offer of forgiveness to those who repent. Therefore, if I say that someone who is having premarital sex, looking at porn or having an affair is living in sin and needs to repent, that is not judging improperly, but rather “judging with right judgment.” Make sense? I am seeing behavior and reaching a conclusion about the person that is accurate based on the truth of God’s Word. We are to judge in this sense. And we are to do so in love, always offering the hope of forgiveness in Christ. If a person doesn’t see their sin, then they will never see their need for Christ.
Applying this principle can feel like walking a tight rope in our conflicted culture. So how do we do this? Only with the wisdom of God in the power of the Holy Spirit. Once again, we have to walk close with God to pull this off! Enjoy the journey.