What Is Judgment?

When I ask, What is judgment? I’m not referring to the Final Judgment but rather one person judging another. Today Christians use the notion of one judging another as a club to buffet the Intolerant One into submission. After all, we’re not supposed to judge each other.

Or are we?

Often the “no judging” position is supported with what Jesus said in Matthew 7, concluding with verse 5:

“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

In a recent radio sermon, one pastor pointed out that the conclusion of this process is still one Christian taking the speck from his brother’s eye.

Just ten verses later, Jesus had this to say:

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.”
– Mat 7:15-16a

So apparently the “no judging” has conditions.

That idea seems consistent with the Apostle Paul’s confrontation of Peter when he changed his treatment of Gentile Christians, and with his confrontation of the church in Corinth for accepting into their fellowship a man living in immorality. Not only did Paul confront the church but he expected them to do the same with the sinful man.

Earlier, in I Corinthians he makes the statement that he has already judged the immoral man. Then this:

I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.
– I Cor. 5:9-13

From this process, groups like the Amish and the Catholics practiced shunning and excommunication. Perhaps because of abuses and/or subjective interpretation, those conventions have been discredited. Church discipline seemed to decline.

In its place, we have tolerance. No judging.

But what happened to knowing false teachers by their fruits? What happened to going to a brother who has offended you, as Jesus commanded in Matthew 18 (along with forgiveness)?

One of the complaints I had about The Shack was that the brand of love the book touted actually nullified justice. But God is a God of love and justice.

His Word teaches correction and reproof along side love and forgiveness.

So maybe we Christians have gone overboard, tolerantly stepping around each other in an effort to avoid boat rocking. Instead, perhaps we should hold onto the sides of the boat and confront sins head on.

It’s not comfortable. It requires soul searching (or log-in-the-eye searching. Search me, oh God, try me, and see if there is any wicked way in me.) It requires confession. It requires letting go of my right to be right, to defend myself, to prove my point. It requires confronting and forgiving. But how true is the one without the other?

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Published in: on April 6, 2010 at 11:03 am  Comments (9)  
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9 Comments

  1. Great article, Rebecca. People also seem to skip right over verse 2 of Matt 7:

    “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

    It’s not that we aren’t supposed to be judging, but that we need to be judging by the correct measure. We will all be judged by God’s word, so that is the measure. However, it is important that we do not bind on others what is human opinion/wisdom rather than divine commandment.

  2. A couple of thoughts on this, Becky;

    1) If there had been effective church discipline and support, perhaps my marriage wouldn’t have fallen apart and my children would still have their home. Since I’m in the middle of a court battle, I really can’t say too much about this. But the costs of the lack of effective discipline are snowballing for the body of Christ.

    2) I completely missed the lack of proper Christian judgment in The Shack. At the beginning, everyone was paying terribly for the loss of a child to a psycho murderer; grief, sad loneliness, self-blame, estrangement from God. At the end, her murderer was in jail (and likely to stay there forever), but the protagonist had learned how to forgive; and had made his peace with himself, his abusive father, his family and his God. He had forgiven his daughter’s murderer and looked forward to showing him how to have the peace and love of God in his life too.

    I’m not sure where the book would have been better for Christian judgment between brothers. I’m more inclined to liken this message of this story to the message of the book of Jonah, where God pardons great offenses because of great repentance, no matter how great those offenses were.

    Anyway, I’m wondering what it was that you saw that I missed?

  3. Thanks for your input, Kameron. Good point about v. 2 in the Matthew passage. And yes, the standard by which we are judged is God’s Word. Honestly, my thought life, my motives fall short time and again. Daily I must cast myself on God’s mercy, repenting of selfishness or pride or an unloving attitude or … you name it. Thanks be to God who gives the victory!

    Becky

  4. Krysti, I’m sorry about your marriage. I suspect you aren’t alone, suffering when church discipline might have made a difference, and it grieves my heart, though I know it grieves God’s more.

    As to The Shack I must have missed the murderer being put in jail. In my post (see the link in the article above) on the subject, I drew heavily from the dialogue between Mack and Sophia about judgment.

    I recognize that this book has had a powerful impact helping people who have been hurt come to a point of forgiveness. For that, I’m thankful. I hope the false ideas about judgment rolled harmlessly away.

    Becky

  5. May I use this to make you my guest blogger on Monday? This is exactly what I try to explain, but you just do a better job of it. Let me know! Thanks!

    Nikki

  6. Many times people say, “don’t judge me,” because they know they are doing wrong and do not wish to stop sinning. The “Don’t Judge Me,” often shuts up a person for lack of verses ready at hand. However, the Bible doesn’t counteract itself. Put them all together in context and you will find it backs lovingly approaching your brother or sister in Christ and confronting them. Eventually, if after one or two witnesses as well as further steps, if the Christian brother or sister does not repent (in other words change and confess) to walk away. Wipe the dust off of your feet. God is a God of justice and love.

  7. Nikki, I hope you got my email about making this post your guest blog article on Monday. Let me know if you need anything.

    You make a good point about why people may use the “don’t judge me” line.

    I agree that justice and forgiveness work together for our good and God’s glory—it is the most loving approach, which is why Jesus taught it.

    I realized something else, though. Paul said he turned the immoral Corinthian man over to Satan. He didn’t say he was going to hell. There is judgment and there is Judgment, and I don’t think we are to engage in the latter. We do know when someone is gossiping or complaining or a host of other sins. Not that I think we should be running around looking for someone to confront.

    For someone to hear us, I think there has to be a relationship established. But maybe this all should be another post. ;-)

    Becky

  8. True. And people need to understand, relationships take time. Don’t just befriend them to “sell” them Jesus–genuinely take the time to love and care about them. In Christianity Today, a pastor got a job at Starbucks part time, not because he needed the money, but because he had the potential to evangelize. When one person spoke to him about her immoral lifestyle, he did not say anything, except to listen, because she wasn’t ready to hear it. Once again, time and alot of it for them to establish trust with us and know we actually care about them. :o) I got your email. It will post on Monday. As always you have very informative and interesting topics. I saved you on my favorites a long time ago.

  9. [...] What Is Judgment? Filed under: Forgiveness, Judgment — by Rebecca LuElla Miller @ 11:03 am Tags: Forgiveness, Judgment [...]


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