5 comments on “To Judge or Not to Judge

  1. I think you border on the use of semantics, here. My interpretations of the passages that you use are the same as the first – judge not. We are to be an example to the church and to the world, but we are not to judge as we are all of sin, and always will be until we are made perfect, and our hypocrisy in doing so is as wrong as the sin that we point out in others. Referenced verses not withstanding, I see them all leading back to the same admonishment – Judge not, that he be not judged. We do need discernment in our daily lives, but that is to keep us from falling victim to deceitfulness. Romans 2, verse 1 admonishes us not to judge as in judging others, we bring judgment upon ourselves. V.

  2. Hi Andre, How are you? Care to catch us up with what’s been going on with you?

    I agree with your understanding of those verses. Indeed we are to discern what is right and what is wrong. And it is true that if we judge, we will similarly be judged. This doesn’t mean that we should not judge but that we should take care to correct our own faults. It is important to say what is right and correct but in the knowledge and humility that we are equally sinners. Our motive is not to condemn but to correct and hopefully bring restoration. I think of the adulteress brought before Jesus by the religious leaders to be stoned. Jesus did not condemn her but did admonish her to sin no more.

  3. We didn’t desert you, Andre, we were just waiting for you to catch your breath. Interesting topic, and one to which I’ve given a great deal of thought over the years. I’ll try to make this brief, but this is a huge topic.

    I’m not sure I can make your task easier, but perhaps I can make it simpler. You have invoked here the “Law of Reciprocity”:

    “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows, that he also will reap”. (Galatians 6:7 MKJV)

    As you know: We can sow with our thoughts, our words, and our deeds, hence Jesus’s admonition:
    “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Matt 5:28

    It follows, then, that we can break all the Commandments, not just openly, but in our heart. We can steal, lie, kill, commit adultery, or what have you, in our heart, and still fall short of fulfilling the Ten Commandments.

    Life is a mirror. What we do before this mirror is returned to us in kind, soon or late. If we love, we shall be loved. If we give, it shall be given to us. If we forgive, we shall be forgiven. If we steal, however, it shall be stolen from us. If we lie, we’ll be lied to. If we kill, we shall be killed. And, too, if we judge, we shall be judged.

    Here’s another saying: “Hate the sin, but love the sinner.” It’s also called impersonalizing the evil. I can paraphrase this saying in a number of ways. Here are a few: Hate the act but not the actor. Condemn the wrongdoing, but not the wrongdoer, judge the crime but not the criminal. I can think of hundreds of sins, wrongdoings, and crimes, general and specific, that I hate, and in the hating have judged them. Sexual assaults against children and women rank high on my list.

    Because I can’t remain neutral about these heinous acts against humanity, doesn’t mean that I have to judge, hate, or condemn the perpetrator in order to judge, hate, and condemn the act.

    I rage against the act, but oftentimes find myself feeling pity for the wrongdoer, knowing that he or she has activated the “Law of Retribution,” and will eventually have to atone for his or her sin, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”

    The only way to break this chain of events of cause and effect is to let the Law handle it, rather than we ourselves, as that just perpetuates the enforcement of the Law. Jesus stated it this way:

    “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
    “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

    If we return a “smite” for a smite, rather than forgiving the smite we have received, the “Law of Retribution” continues unabated, until someone says enough is enough and forgives the “smite.”

  4. Hi Andre (and Everyone),
    Great topic and I think the question of whether or not to “judge” and act on that judgment comes down to three main questions. These include questions of relationship, the person’s own perspectives about their behaviors in question, and whether or not one has sufficiently prayed about it.

    I believe that the first question one should ask one’s self before moving forward into having a conversation with the “erring” brother or sister is to ask, “What is my relationship to this person?” If you are close to the person or their actions and behaviors may have a direct impact on you and your family, then perhaps it is worth a conversation. But if the answer to that question reveals only a superficial relationship or at the very least one not deep enough to allow access to the circumstances behind the actions, behaviors, beliefs, etc., then perhaps it is alright to let the opinions one may naturally form simply dispel. This is a perspective that sometimes gets backgrounded – when it should be foregrounded – about whether or not one should “judge” (whatever this abstract concept means since it can take different forms depending on the situation) depends on the concept of relationship.

    The next question I believe should be asked is, “What are the person’s ideas about or reasons for their own activity, beliefs, or behaviors in question?” If the one who seems to be getting “off track” is a close friend, then it could be worth a conversation to ask them what THEY think of the activity, behaviors, beliefs, etc. that they themselves are enacting. This can bring about understanding and an opportunity to be of some service, whether it is a listening ear or the ability to provide counsel or other help. Sometimes what may seem like a major lapse in judgment or wrongdoing to you the caring friend, in fact once explained, may actually fit that person’s lifeview or life’s circumstances, albeit not your own. When viewed from this light, the actions or behaviors might then be viewed as simply “different” rather than “right” or “wrong”.

    Recently I was told by the pastor of a local Charismatic church that people who go from church to church and assembly to assembly are simply trying to “avoid correction.” He said this when I shared with him that I was visiting his church in my quest to find one that fits since I have not been a “member” of a church in many years. This pastor takes a diametrically opposite perspective of scripture from my own. I gather that he is interpreting the writings of the Apostle Paul from II Corinthians in a sharply focused way while I choose to dwell on the peace and harmony I may find from being in community with like-minded believers and am willing to spend the time and energy in finding that community. Christ had much to say about being in peace and harmony with one another and Paul did as well. (And since that conversation, I have in fact found a faith community that fits my ideals and to which I can be a contributing member. And not in his church.) If then, those who go from church to church seeking one out are actually seen as simply trying to “avoid correction”, who can win in the face of such judgment? And if church-going is boiled down to the concept of “correction”, what does that say about speaking life into the believers? Would Christ, who was not a member of any church, be pleased with such a belief? If the believers are continually waiting for the “rod of correction” or judgment from the pastor and others in their faith community, are they spiritually growing? Correction or judgment and too much of it can in fact bring spiritual death.

    And this brings me to the third question I believe should be asked and is perhaps the most important: “Have I prayed about this?” Am I perhaps in error in other areas of my life in which my judgment of this person would only illuminate the beam that is in my own eye? The power of life or death can be found in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21, James 3:6). Therefore, if we are to move forward in our judgment and initiate a conversation with our sister or brother, we should ask ourselves, will this judgment speak life or death? If it’s the latter or we are honestly not sure, perhaps we should pray about it again. And again for as long as it takes. Sometimes, prayer is all that is necessary because the power of prayer is in its karma: we cannot pray for another without bringing the peace of prayer back to ourselves. And where peace reigns, so does harmony.

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