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Love and Judgment
by Don Pedal
4/09/2014 / Christian Living
I have chosen a topic, which is controversial and sometimes used as a weapon to silence us. My subject is "Judgment" --- judging people and the world around us.
Scripture tells us in Matt. 7:1, "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 ".
This is a difficult statement to live by. As I look at my typical day, I know that I violate this commandment more than I realize.
We can all expect to have people say to us, "who are you to judge, your own religion tells you not to do that. --- Let him who casts the first stone --- You're all a bunch of narrow minded bigots" etc. Intimidating isn't it?
How do we answer these kinds of statements? Are we prepared to answer them?
Sometimes, as Christians, we make judgments of the people and events around us. Are we wrong in doing that? Are we poor stewards if we do not? How can we resolve this paradox?
Did the Lord really mean that we are not to judge others?
Our culture tells us, we are all flawed people, and people with flaws have no right to judge other people. We Christians struggle with a fear of being judgmental. We do not believe that there are objective standards by which to judge. Where there are no standards, there is nothing by which to measure behavior.
As Christians, we should not listen to the world's wisdom, but seek the wisdom of the One who will someday judge us all.
When you think of it, if we did not judge at all we could not forgive at all. We only forgive people for what we blame them, and we only blame them after we have judged them.
How can we apply Paul's instruction regarding confrontation and restoration of an errant brother (Gal.6), unless we first make the judgment that he has erred?
It seems that the New Testament makes it clear that some form of judging is normal in the life of a Christian.
Paul told the Christians in Rome not to judge one another (Romans 14:13) "Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way". Paul taught the Corinthians that they were to judge sinful believers and leave people outside the church of God. (1 Cor. 5:12 13). What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you ", James said." He who judges his brother speaks against the law (James 4:11) Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it".
When a person judges, they also form an opinion. Opinions are often shaped by our fears, pride or ignorance. If all we had were human opinions, we could agree with those who say we should never judge.
Let's, for a moment consider what Jesus said in Matthew 7, verse 3. "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? How can you say to your brother," Let me take the speck out of your eye" when all the time there is a plank in your own eye"? Jesus warns his disciples against following the practices of the Pharisees, who judged others as if they themselves were beyond judgment. What's more, they judged people by the letter of the law not the spirit of the law. Jesus was simply saying that we should not seek to correct a person when we are guilty of the same or another offense. We need to deal with our own sin first. However, He never intended that His disciples should set aside all exercise of discernment or judgment.
Prudence indicates that Jesus could not have meant that we were never to make judgments on what people are doing. If we can agree that, we make judgments of the people around us and of events, let us consider the spirit in which we seek to correct or judge someone else.
We need to judge or correct others in a spirit of love, compassion and humility.
Jesus warns us of the subtle tendency to become "critical condemners." This person feels his role in life is to see the faults in the lives of others and point them out. He points out the faults but also feels the need to condemn the faulted one.
Whenever our "constructive criticism" or "confronting our brother in sin" stems from motives of self righteousness or meanness rather than a genuine and humble desire to help others and to see God glorified, we disobey Christ's injunction in Matt. 7.
When we correct others harshly and rudely, without sensitivity to their needs and circumstances, especially their spiritual welfare, we become "critical condemners."
When we insist on correcting every fault, never allowing love to cover wrongs (Prov. 10:12), we demonstrate our lack of graciousness towards others --- we show also that we know little of God's grace in our own lives. Prov. 10:12 Hatred stirs up dissention, but love covers over all wrongs."
Paul was aware that God's people sometimes expect God to deal with everyone in the same way, but that is not always true. Just as we as parents respond to each child as a distinct individual, so God responds to each of us.
We have to be wary of our tendency to "self righteousness" or of applying our standards to others. We lose sight of God's plan for the church to take diverse people and make them one under His Lordship.
We must be careful of having a prideful belief that we are capable of counseling everyone who falls into sin, or a desire to humiliate others.
There are also times when prayer and not confrontation is called for. We need to seek discernment from the Holy Spirit to recognize such times.
The picture in the Gospels shows us that transgression at any level should lead to confrontation, meaning confrontation in a loving, healing way, and not condemnation.
We also need to keep in mind that only the Lord himself can judge a person's motives for an action. There is no way that we can know what is in the heart of the person at the time, what pain there is in their life, or what things in their past has left deep wounds that have never fully healed and brought back at that moment. Remembering that not everybody is getting A's in everything, maybe God is still working on that person and a harsh criticism can have a devastating effect. We must remind ourselves that we are not getting "A's" in everything either.
To sum up what we have said here, we might remember:
A Leave the judgment of a person's motives to the Lord. He is the only one who can do it justly and with compassion and mercy.
B Let's make sure we have removed the "beam" from our own eye.
C When we need to make a judgment, let us be sure that it is in the spirit of love, compassion and humility and with the goal of healing and reconciliation. Remember that love covers a multitude of wrongs.
D We must pray to the Holy Spirit for sensitivity and discernment. Sometimes prayer and not confrontation is called for.
E Be aware that God does not deal with everyone in the same way.
F Be careful not to apply our own self-righteous standards to other people.
G Remember that sometimes we may judge wrong. I remember hearing, "If we make a mistake in judgment, let's make sure it is on the side of compassion."
Let us pray that we may become fruitful channels of God's love, healing and forgiveness to the hurting world around us. May we be a channel of His light to the dark world that so desperately needs love.
As a senior citizen, I am dedicated to serving the Lord through sharing my experiences and insights with other believers. My primary focus is upon being an disciple of Jesus and, in being one, I can help others to find their spiritual way also.
This article is original and not copywrited
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