Saturday, July 15, 2006

Judge Not

Luke 6:37 ¶ “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

(This concept of judging can be quite confusing. And I am not sure if I have it right. Even while I was studying this, I came across one scripture where Paul instructs us to judge within the church. Then, I found another scripture where James is explaining that the wrong type of judgment is “speaking evil” of a brother. However, the heading for James 4:11 in one of the Bibles (inserted by well-meaning men) is “Do Not Judge A Brother”. The inserted text is not the Bible, but most people will not study this out. If they did, they would find that we are indeed supposed to Judge a Brother; and, that there is a wrong way and a right way to do it.)

One of the terrible things that has slipped into the Church: The idea that we are not to confront evil in the Body of Christ. Nor are we supposed to speak out against sin in the world, because then, we would be ‘judging’.

About 10 years ago, while I was working at Northrop, there was a general conversation about homosexuality. Sometime during the course of the conversation, someone stated that particular lifestyle is immoral and wrong. (Keep in mind that it was not mean, belligerent, crude, or demeaning.) I was surprised to hear other Christian people say things like, “Whoa, the Bible says, ‘Don’t judge’. Just because you don’t agree with someone, does not give you the right to judge.”

I wonder why we have a book in the Bible called ‘Judges’?

I have been thinking about this for years and watching how, in churches, we let good Christian people slowly destroy their lives because we are afraid to speak to them about a sin in their life. Then, I went to a church where a phrase (in my opinion) got way out of hand. “Accuser of the brethren”. I cannot remember how it first got started, but it produced an atmosphere such that if anyone pointed out wrong in another Christian’s life, they were lining themselves up with ‘the ministry of Satan’ as 'accuser of the brothers'

(I think that this started out being a sermon on gossip. The pastor was teaching that we should no go around just pointing out everyone’s faults…which is very true. But there ended up being an atmosphere where people stopped saying much at all and would overlook the obvious wrongs in peoples lives. Of course, there is the other extreme where people go around simply pointing out everything wrong in people’s lives! Both are wrong.)

We NEED loving, Biblical judgment in the Body of Christ. I need it. You need it. We are a Body that is supposed to be working together. At times, we should boldly confront sin in another part of the Body, helping them to make it right; and, we must also remain humble and open for others to point it out in our lives. We all have blind spots where we need another’s help.

Here is some commentary to better explain:
“[Judge not, that ye be not judged] This command refers to rash, censorious, and unjust judgment. Romans 2:1, Luke 6:37 explains it in the sense of condemning. Christ does not condemn judging as a magistrate, for that, when according to justice, is lawful and necessary. Nor does he condemn our forming an opinion of the conduct of others, for it is impossible not to form an opinion of conduct that we know to be evil. But what he refers to is a habit of forming a judgment hastily, harshly, and without an allowance for every palliating circumstance, and of expressing such an opinion harshly and unnecessarily when formed.

I think that 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 explains true Biblical judgment. We are instructed to judge, avoid, even “put away” someone “named a brother who is sexually immoral, covetous, an idolater, a reviler, a drunkard, or extortioner,” who is unrepentant and refuses to change.

James 4:11 explains wrong judgment--speaking evil of a brother.

There is a big difference between judging by speaking evil of another member of the Body of Christ and judging to help them.

In our heart, if we genuinely want to help someone to see where they are wrong, and lovingly & tenderly confront the issue, we are not the accuser of the brethren, but a true friend. However, if we only point out the faults of others, but never actually do anything but talk about them, then we are in the wrong.

May the Holy Spirit give us understanding in all of this.

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