Judging

In some ways, the Internet has allowed all of us to be Monday quarterbacks — amateurs who freely give our opinion about what should have been done. The added element, however, is that we no longer have to wait until after the fact. We can jump right in with the news pundits and analyze, criticize, philosophize, and “prognostisize” to our heart’s content.

Frankly, I like the fact that I can say on my Facebook page that Newt Gingrich won the Republican primary in South Carolina for no other reason than that he’s a good debater — and actually have a few dozen people read it and respond. I like the fact that I can voice an opinion about how the media seems to be driving the public toward an Obama/Romney election.

What a world! Ten years ago, I had such opinions but the only people who heard them were the few others in my circle who were also interested in politics (or sports or whatever else the subject might be).

But along with having a voice, saying what we believe, and having a group of people who listen, comes great responsibility, especially for Christians, and it troubles me that so few seem interested in talking about our talking.

I can almost hear the “yeah-yeah-yeah’s — we’ve covered this already; move on” coming through cyberspace. Except it’s not enough for us to know what is right; we need to do what is right.

Is it right for us to call our President names? Things like “arrogance with a teleprompter” or “the epitome of hypocrisy”? Since arrogance and hypocrisy are sins of the heart, are we able to accuse someone of those without falling into the sin of judging?

I really don’t understand the thinking when I read from a Christian, “Newt Gingrich is not repentant about his adultery.” Supposedly the idea is, if he were repentant he would leave his present wife because it was she with whom he cheated when he was married to his second wife. But is that what it means to be repentant — to “fix” our sin? I thought being repentant meant we accept Jesus’s work to fix what we can never fix.

But the actual issue aside, isn’t there a way to confront such topics and give our opinion about public figures without wearing a judge’s mantle? And shouldn’t we?

Scripture says we aren’t to judge our brothers — other Christians — that we are to love our neighbors; love our enemies; let our speech always be with grace; put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience; all because we are new creatures in Christ.

I’m not sure how vilifying others identifies us with Christ. Yes, He called the Pharisees such things as vipers and white-washed tombs, but as it turns out He is the Judge, and He is omniscient, so He knows the heart of everyman.

This issue is complex. Christians are to confront brothers who sin against us, and we are to be discerning — to recognize false teaching and point out the error. But what about our political leaders?

If one says he’s a Christian, do we take his word for it? If so, we need to treat him like a brother — confront him, correct him, pray for him, if he is in sin. But lambaste him, call him names, ridicule him? I don’t see that approach presented in Scripture.

But if we say he is using the name Christian without understanding what it means, should we then treat him like a non-Christian? If so, it seems the verses in 1 Corinthians 5 apply:

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. (Emphasis mine.)

What’s the bottom line? I don’t think God calls us to refrain from voicing an opinion about those with whom we disagree. On the other hand, mean-spirited, contentions, even slanderous speech is sinful, no matter who the target is. Believers can disagree without becoming odious in the process, but too often our right beliefs blind us to the requirement of right action in carrying them out.

Isn’t that why Jesus taught us to look first at ourselves before we go about trying to correct anyone else? How differently the world would view us if we religiously obeyed at least that one point.

Published in: on January 24, 2012 at 6:21 pm  Comments (5)  
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5 Comments

  1. Becky,

    Thank you for asking us to apply ‘spiritual brakes’ to our run-away tendencies to presume what we can’t know and to slander others.

    Our mandate is to speak the truth in love, while praying for others, especially those in power. We shouldn’t particiipate in the sins peculiar to political debate.

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  2. Great comment, Maria. The command to speak the truth in love doesn’t exclude speaking about the President or any of the candidates running for office. I think we’ve bought into the American judicial angle — public figures are fair game, so we go after the ones with whom we disagree as if they are Satan personified. Would that we could see ourselves, but for the grace of God.

    Becky

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  3. Yes, but for the grace of God we would do the same evil things as they! We probably do them, sometime without realizing it.

    One thing we can avoid, within the discussion of politics, is passing along emails that are mocking or slanderous. Mockery always makes me remember Psalm 1: we don’t want to sit in the seat of the scornful, any more than we want to stand in the way of sinners.

    Bless you, Becky!

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  4. Love this application of Psalm 1. We don’t always think of people who may hold similar positions as we do as mockers, but that can be the case. It is the method of communication that dishonors others and therefore ignores what God has told us we are to do in our relationships that undermines the positions Christians say we believe.

    Becky

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  5. Yes, to mock others is to disobey the Lord’s commandment to love them as ourselves. This disobedience can happen in a snap, Becky. We can find ourselves snickering. I catch myself doing this. In His Word is safety and a pure witness.
    Maria

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