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Christianity: judgment

Luke Breuer
2010-01-10 01:35 UTC

Consider Philippians 3:7-16:
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith; that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature be thus minded; and if in anything you are otherwise minded, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

If we truly want to be like Paul, we need to have the same disregard for anything that is not Christ (truth), and push each other toward becoming like Christ (truth & love). It is a continual process — the best we will get is to see through a glass dimly. That being said, we want to ensure we maintain momentum and in the right directions. When we are headed in the wrong direction, discernment and judgment are required.

It is important to note that a fundamental motivation for judgment should be one of correction that enables one to better strive for a fantastic and wondrous goal. We as Christians have the advantage of all being headed in the same direction, even though our individual methods of getting there may be different to the point of us not understanding each other in non-critical aspects. (Romans 14:5-9) However, because we are imperfect, the knowledge we gain about situations will be imperfect and our judgments will be imperfect. If we do not have humility, in copious amounts, we will stumble, again and again and again.
two types of judgment
Judgment can be done in one of two ways:
  1. according to man's standards
  2. according to God's standards

The first method is comes naturally to humans and looks something like this:
Look at someone for an arbitrary period of time, see whatever you want to see, then come to whatever conclusion you want.

The second method is extremely hard; a guess as to what it looks like:
Understand the person on a level appropriate for the judgments being made. Ensure you are not suffering from the same [kinds of] delinquencies. Ensure your objective is truth via love. Say nothing if you are not willing to follow up.

One method of judgment gives life and refines; the other tears down and discourages. One focuses on what the judge wants to focus on, while the other focuses on what God would want to focus on, such as "the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith".
Godly judgment is personal
Those of the world see with shallow eyes, apply stereotypes, and aim to strengthen their egos at the expense of others[']. They want to be right — even if they are not. Being right is more important than aligning with the truth. This is evil.

God is a personal God. He causes His Spirit to convict us each of different sins at different times. Therefore, we must be careful to temper our judgment with an understanding of the other person's situation. Such adaptation requires humility, understanding, holiness, love, and often sacrifice. Words uttered in judgment are only the start: they need to be followed up with effort to help the person turn the judgment into actual purification. Without this, the term "drive-by judgment" applies. Drive-by actions are all about the driver getting what he wants and then leaving as soon as possible — someone else can deal with the consequences.

I am tempted to go as far as to say that proper judgment should include much effort to make the one being judged feel that the rebuke is more like a shepherd rescuing a lost sheep and less like a terrible lashing that a slave might get for disobeying his master. Unfortunately, sometimes we do need a harsh rebuke because the tender version just did not work. Our goal should be to be receptive to reproving — Proverbs has a lot to say about this.
love is a requirement
If we are to judge in a Godly manner, we must do so in love. If we cannot speak the truth in love, we should probably not speak it at all. 1 John has much to say about brothers who do not love one another; here's a hint: it is not possible to love God without loving each other. At least, I know of nobody who has ever accomplished this. Jesus was the epitome of doing both of these; see how he treated people.
When Jacob died, Joseph's brothers feared that he would exact vengeance (Gen. 50:15-21). They went as far as to make up a commandment from Jacob, telling Joseph to be nice to them. Fortunately, Joseph realized that God used their evil for good and withheld judgment (or one could say he granted them mercy).

When Samuel went to look for a king to succeed Saul, he assumed that Eliab would be the one (1 Sam. 16:6-7). God rebuked Samuel and reminded him that He does not judge as man does, according to silly worldly things like height.

Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. He had his own will, but submitted it perfectly to God's:
My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.
questions before you judge
  • do I understand what is truly going on?
  • am I attempting to control the other person? (or is my humility readily apparent?)
    • be careful of trying to help a person in way that would work for you, but perhaps not him/her
  • am I willing to pay the price in helping them deal with what I am about to say?
  • can our current friendship bear my words?
  • is this really what the person needs to hear, right now?
  • am I fairly perfect in the areas I'm judging or do I have a plank in my eye?
  • can love cover this issue, 1 Peter style?
  • sometimes verses are omitted for brevity; look at the heading for the full range
  • the below is a mish-mash of RSV and NKJV
Exodus 18
And so it was, on the next day, that Moses sat to judge the people; and the people stood before Moses from morning until evening.
When they have a difficulty, they come to me, and I judge between one and another; and I make known the statutes of God and His laws.
Leviticus 19:15
You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor.
Deuteronomy 1:16-18
Then I commanded your judges at that time, saying, 'Hear the cases between your brethren, and judge righteously between a man and his brother or the stranger who is with him. You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small as well as the great; you shall not be afraid in any man’s presence, for the judgment is God's. The case that is too hard for you, bring to me, and I will hear it.' And I commanded you at that time all the things which you should do.
Deuteronomy 25:1
If there is a dispute between men, and they come to court, that the judges may judge them, and they justify the righteous and condemn the wicked,
I Samuel 16:7b
For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
Proverbs 9:8
Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.
Proverbs 13:1
A wise son hears his father's instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
Proverbs 17:10
A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.
Proverbs 25:12
Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear.
Proverbs 28:23
He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue.
Ecclesiastes 7:5
It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools.
Ecclesiastes 10:13-14
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.

For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
Isaiah 11:3b
And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes,
Nor decide by the hearing of His ears;
Ezekiel 3:16-21
And at the end of seven days, the word of the Lord came to me: "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you will have saved your life. Again, if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning; and you will have saved your life."
Matthew 7:1-5
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
Matthew 7:15-20
Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
Matthew 12:34b
For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
Matthew 23:23
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
John 5:30
I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.
John 7:24
Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.
Romans 2
Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.
For God shows no partiality.
(see James 2:1; another word for partiality is respecter of persons)
Romans 14:10-13
Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written,
"As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall give praise to God." So each of us shall give account of himself to God.

Then let us no more pass judgment on one another, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.
(Christ is to be the only stumbling block, and He shouldn't be that for brothers.)
1 Corinthians 2:15-16
The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. "For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.
(Do not fear judgment of the world; we as Christians are uniquely given tools for proper, Godly judgment.)
1 Corinthians 5:12-13
For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore "put away from yourselves the evil person."
1 Corinthians 6:1-8
Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?
1 Corinthians 13:1
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
Ephesians 4:14-16
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Ephesians 5:11
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
Hebrews 4:12-13
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
James 2:1-13
So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
James 4:11-12
Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?
James 5:19-20
My brethren, if any one among you wanders from the truth and some one brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:8
Above all hold unfailing your love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins.
Jude 10-11
But these men revile whatever they do not understand, and by those things that they know by instinct as irrational animals do, they are destroyed. Woe to them! For they walk in the way of Cain, and abandon themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error, and perish in Korah’s rebellion.
Stand to Reason: The Scoop on Judging by Greg Koukl