That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life...
Philippians 2:15-16a

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

To Judge or Not to Judge? Part 3

In my last post about judging I shared some Scriptures that I had read dealing with this subject.  It always important to keep the Bible first and foremost.

Biblical fundamentalists are often accused of judging and being judgmental.  However, these two things are not the same.  Judgmental is displaying an excessively critical point of view.   Judge can mean to conclude, believe, consider, decide, and/or examine.  All through the Bible we see people judging.  There's even a whole book called Judges!  God appointed judges over His people Israel to guide them, and to enforce the law.  After the judges, the kings ruled over Israel.  In the New Testament we are commanded to "judge ourselves" (I Cor 11:31).  Many times in the book of Psalms the writer cries out to God for judgment.  We often think of the word judge in a negative context (judgmental).  One of the things I learned in my study that MANY verses in Scripture use judge in a positive way.

Psalm 7:8  The LORD shall judge the people: judge me O LORD, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me.

Psalm 9:8  He shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minster judgement to the people in uprightness.

Psalm 10:18 To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress.

Psalm 26:1 Judge me O LORD; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the LORD, therefore shall I not slide.

Psalm 43:1 Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man.

Psalm 54:1  Save me, O God, by thy name, and judge me by thy strength.

Psalm 68:5 A Father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation.

The Bible calls God a Judge in Genesis 18:25. That it be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?  If God is THE Judge, then He is our perfect example of how to judge.  From this verse we see that God does right.  God treats the righteous and the wicked differently.  God will not punish those who do not deserve punishment.  God's judgements uphold the truth and punish sin. Psalm 7:11 God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.  Psalm 58:11 So that a man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth.  

God's judgement upholds His truth.  It seems that Christians have this idea that if you come down hard on sin, condemn it, or speak up against a particular evil you are being judgmental.  Was God judgmental when He said He was angry with the wicked every day?  Does God stop loving the wicked because He is angry with him?  John 3:16 For God so loved the world...  God hates sin, but He loves the sinner.  God must be angry with the wicked for his wickedness, but He still loves the wicked man.  If God did not love mankind, why did He send His Son to die for us?  If I love God, I will love what He loves, and hate what He hates.  Is it then judgmental to condemn sin?  Is it judgmental to point out error?  Is it judgmental to glorify that which is good and warn against that which is evil?   Is it unloving to do these things?  

God cannot contradict Himself.  If God's judgment makes Him unloving, then He ceases to be God.   The Bible tells us to love not the world, neither the things that are in the world (I John 2:15).  Jesus hated the sin in the temple in John 2:14-16, and He took drastic action against it.  Then in John 8:1-11 we see one of the most loving and compassionate acts of Christ when He forgives the woman taken in adultery.  We have no record in Scripture of any of the money changers in the temple repenting and being saved.  Does that mean that Christ did not love them because He expelled them from the temple so harshly?  NO!  We have no record in the Scripture that the woman taken in adultery was punished for her sin.  Does that mean that Jesus simply turned a blind eye to her wickedness?  NO!  In both cases Jesus judged righteous judgment.  He judged the money changers for their open sin and failure to repent.  He judged the woman for her contrite heart and her repentance for her actions.  Some may say that the way Christ treated the money changers was too judgmental.  Maybe He should have allowed them to stay in the temple.  After all, that's where they would hear about God.  So, why did Christ throw them out?  He threw them out because they refused to repent of their sin and because they were making a mockery of God.   He threw them out because He will not tolerate wickedness.  He threw them out because they were unrepentant.  Jesus' actions toward those money changers did not make Him any less compassionate or forgiving.  He died to save them, just as He died to save the woman taken in adultery.  His actions were a result of men rejecting Him and His salvation.  

God commands His children to live holy and blameless lives (II Peter 3:14).  Making decisions against good and bad helps with this.  Taking a stand on truth and right is not being judgmental, it is commanded.  Romans 12:9 "Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good."  It's true that most biblical, fundamental Christians take a stand on many more issues (I prefer to call them truths) than a lot of other Christians.  For such they are accused of being judgmental.  Well, if my stand on truth makes me seem judgmental to others then so be it.  I cannot change God's Word.  However, what these people who condemn others as being judgmental fail to realize is that judgment and love can co-exist.  In fact they MUST co-exist or the Christian ends up throwing out half the Bible.

I am going to give a personal example of a stand I've taken, and how it DOES NOT make me judgmental (excessively critical).  I believe that it is wrong for a Christian to celebrate Halloween.  The previous verse I quoted in Romans 12:9 speaks to this, as does I Thess. 5:18, Phil 4:8, Psalm 101:3, Psalm 119:68, Romans 12:21, and  I Thess. 5:21.  I have made a judgement (decision) based on Scriptural principles that to participate in Halloween does not please God.  Halloween has pagan origins and makes evil look good (Is. 5:20).  Many Christians celebrate Halloween.  Making the initial judgement that Halloween is wrong does not make me judgmental.  Sharing my belief with another Christian does not make me judgmental.  Encouraging other Christians to change and stop celebrating Halloween does not make me judgmental.  I have chosen to share my belief about Halloween with many fellow Christians, and I have challenged them to look at the issue from Scripture.  Some continue to celebrate Halloween, and others have chosen not to celebrate it.  Ultimately that is their decision, but that does not lessen my responsibility of taking a stand on the truth.  It is possible to share a conviction with a fellow-believer without being critical of them.  In fact the Scripture commands us to teach, exhort, encourage, rebuke, reprove, and edify our fellow Christians.  If we are commanded to do these things, and yet commanded not to be judgmental, it MUST be possible to exhort, reprove, and do all the others without being judgmental!  My desire in sharing my conviction with other Christians about Halloween is not to be judgmental of their decision regarding that day.  My desire is to encourage them to be obedient to the Bible, and to receive the blessings that come from upholding the truth.  There is no blessing in being judgmental, but there is certainly blessing in being obedient (Deut 11:26-27).

I think Christians accuse other Christians of being judgmental because it allows them not to question their own actions.  The Christian life is a journey of constant growth.  Growth often comes through conviction.  Conviction requires change.  The truth is, that many Christians do not want to change some of their habits even though they know in their hearts that they are sinful.  So, when someone lovingly challenges them from the Scripture to consider what Christ has said, they accuse that person of being judgmental.   Just think about that scenario for a moment.  Remember being judgmental is being excessively critical.  Was it the person who gave the exhortation or rebuke who was being critical, or was it the person who just called that other Christian judgmental who was being critical? Hmmmm...?

Psalm 119.75 I know O LORD, that thy judgments are right...


  1. Thanks Traci :)
    It's nice to have a positive, loving, non-judmental comment on my blog :). Hope you have a great day.