Saturday, April 11, 2015

J is for Judge

Who am I to Judge?

John 3:16 may be the most memorized verse in the Bible, but I think Matt. 7:1 must be the most often quoted verse by the ungodly. Even atheists can quote it; “Judge not that ye be not judged.”

But non-Christians are not the only ones who misquote or misapply that verse. I have been called up to jury duty several times in my life and I am always amazed by a few potential jurists who object to their call with some foolish and embarrassing statement like, “I’m a Christian and I don’t think I should judge someone else.” I think they would have been far more accurate had they stopped their sentence after the word “think.”

Even a casual reading of that verse, in its context, will reveal that Jesus is actually teaching that we should judge, that we are to use discernment and that we must uphold the Truth.

He tells his followers, “beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” vs.15.

In verse 16 He says, “ye shall know them by their fruits” and then, after an allegory, He reminds them once again in verse 20, “ye shall know them by their fruits.”

So how are we supposed to beware of false prophets if we do not make judgments?

Jesus continues in His sermon with this interesting warning, “not everyone that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven” (vs. 21).

There are many (false prophets, false teachers, false professors, etc.) who will pretend to belong in His sheepfold but they are “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

A quick survey through some other New Testament passages will show that it is our responsibility to discern or judge between truth and error:

· Romans 16:17 – “mark them who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned…”

· 1 Cor. 2:15 – “he who is spiritual judges all things."

· Heb. 5:12-14 – “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the Word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

· Phil. 1:9 – “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment.”

· 1 Thes. 5:21 – “Prove all things, hold fast to what is good.”

· 1 John 4:1 – “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

When all is said and done, I think most people who abuse the directive, "judge not," only do so in specific and inappropriate instances.  It is cowardly to invoke isolated passages of scripture to justify one's unwillingness to perform his public responsibilities or to identify sinful behavior in the name of tolerance.  But then, hey, who am I to judge?


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1 comment:

Ron Livesay said...

You make great points. It is not judging, in a bad sense, to call something sin if God has already done so in His Word. It is merely agreeing with what God has said. It is interesting to note that Jesus clarified this by saying, "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment" (John 7:24, NKJV).