12 May 2012

Biblical Judging

Because self-righteous criticism and hurtful cynicism is a problem in the church, many cling to the absolute that Christians are not to judge other Christians. While it is certainly true that some judging is counterproductive and sinful, the Bible does instruct believers to judge their brothers and sisters. So how can we distinguish between these two vastly different definitions of the word "judge"?

Wrong Judging
James 4:11-12 lay out how we are NOT to judge self-righteously. The inspired text shows us how we can wrongly equate ourselves with God, dealing out accusations on other Christians.

Matthew 23:13-39 shows us how we are NOT to judge hypocritically. The Pharisees looked down on those who could not keep all the laws of Moses; however, they themselves were "whitewashed tombs." Likewise, Matthew 7 speaks about removing the plank from one's own eye before pointing out the speck in a fellow believer's eye.

Biblical Judging
I Corinthians 5:12 says we are not to judge unbelievers but only believers. Because non-Christians do not have the Holy Spirit, we Christians can only expect that they would live contrary to the Scriptures. However, we are to keep each other accountable, with the Bible's truths as our standard for holiness.

Ephesians 4:14-16 has the famous phrase "speak the truth in love," and the context is so that we may "build up the church." Confrontation is meant to do good; it is purposed to build up the individual and bond believers together in community.

Galatians 6:1-2 also contains a well-quoted phrase: "Bear one another's burdens." In context, this is talking about coming alongside someone who is struggling and helping them to be restored to a right walk with the Lord.

Hebrews 10:23-25 instructs us to "stimulate one another to love and good deeds" and links that to gathering together in Christian fellowship. Therefore, our faith is not meant to be lived in isolation. The Bible tells us to involve ourselves with other believers, build community, and keep each other accountable and reaching for Christ-likeness.

Contrasted
Therefore, here are the two types of judging, laid out side by side:

Wrong
Biblical
pridefulhumble
slanderousconfrontational
hatefulloving
tearing downbuilding up
harshgentle
superior brother/sister

Conclusion
Rightful judging must be motivated by and carried out with love.
It is not a casual observation but rather a heartfelt discussion with someone with whom you have a relationship built on trust and truth.
Judging oneself must come first--before identifying sin in another.
"Truth without love is cruelty. Love without truth is hypocrisy." ~unknown
Walk in the Spirit, hear His voice, and obey His prodding.

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