Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Should We Christians Ever Judge?

What is the best-known and most-loved verse in the whole Bible? What is the verse that many, even most, people outside the Christian community can quote with ease? That should be easy to answer, brothers and sisters in Christ. It is the one-sentence admonition that Jesus uttered when He commanded us: "Judge not, lest you be judged." I doubt that anyone is unaware of that command from the lips of Christ. Yet do we really know what Jesus meant when He forbade us from judging others? Our understanding of what something means, as a rule, guides our conduct and attitudes. That holds true in how we understand what Jesus meant by forbidding us from judging others.

Why Need We Christians Be Concerned About This?

In the developed world, we Christians live in a culture that values tolerance and political correctness. We have "progressed" to a point where certain actions clearly condemned in Scripture as sinful, harmful or unnatural, are now increasingly viewed and even embraced, as acceptable. Homosexuals are now a protected minority group, at least in the US. It is considered "hate speech" and politically incorrect to dare suggest that the Bible condemns homosexuality as sinful. Abortion has been legal in the US since 1973 and today, it is often called a "woman's right to choose" or "her right to privacy" or "her right to control her own body." Premarital sex, especially on the part of single and engaged adults, is now accepted and to even hint that the Bible warns against these practices as wrong, is to risk being called old-fashioned, out of touch with reality, and politically incorrect. Yet we do not have a politically correct Bible nor do we serve a politically correct God. Nope.

What Does Judging Mean In Context of Our Culture?

In most of the developed world, our culture now dictates how we Christians should relate. You can tell this easily as you interact with any media outlet, talk with others, even confront laws that keep getting passed that make Scripturally unacceptable actions acceptable, notably abortion and homosexual rights, called "marriage equality. Abortion is not once mentioned in either the Old or the New Testament. In both Testaments, though, God affirms the sanctity of human life, from the second of conception on. He declares that His purposes for us are established even before conception. In the Old and New Testament, the Bible condemns homosexual lifestyles as sin. God makes it clear that He designed marriage to be between a husband and wife, and Jesus said that in the New Testament. In both Old and New Testaments, God tells us that He prohibits any use of sexual intercourse outside of marriage. We can't duck the reality that God's precepts and ways run counter to our culture in many ways.

So Where Does Judging Fit In This Picture?

Scripture makes it clear that if we truly serve Christ, we who follow Him will call wrong what He calls wrong. He tells us to speak out against what He calls sin, wherever we see it but to always do it in love for the other person. Guess what? Yes, Jesus warned us not to judge others, but never did He say that we are to hold back from judging their actions when we see sin. Our relativistic culture will never understand God's ways and precepts, though His precepts all back up sound physical and emotional health principles. The wrong use of sex causes sexually transmitted diseases, untimely pregnancies, and has ruined countless lives. Those who adopt homosexual lifestyles set themselves up for stigma, despite growing cultural acceptance. They violate the laws of nature concerning sexuality, and become vulnerable to the hatred and crime due to societal "homophobia." Abortion not only kills unborn children, but frequently causes much emotional and even physical harm to their moms. It robs fathers, grandparents and society of people who could have been blessings to them. When Jesus told us to not judge, He does not mean that we are to stay silent about what He calls wrong. He certainly does NOT call us to approve of it!

Where Does This Leave Me?

In short, in various parts of Scripture, and by Christ Himself, we are told to "judge righteously." We are never asked to "check our minds at the door" when we follow Christ. Brothers and sisters, we are told to exercise discernment when it comes to if we are being exposed to correct teaching. We are TOLD to check what any Pastor or Bible teacher teaches us with the Bible. When we see people do things that God calls wrong, we are to speak the truth to them in love. Guess what? We are to judge outward wrong behavior in ourselves and others, and to evaluate the teachings of any Pastor or Bible teacher. We are NOT to judge anyone's intentions, motives, or their spiritual conditions. This is the judging that Scripture forbids. Let's know the difference between acceptable and unacceptable judging.


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