"Do not judge by appearance, but judge with right judgement" -Jesus (John 7:24) We have an epidemic sweeping across the religious and non religious alike that says, "Don't judge me" or in an attempt to use the Word of God to defend themselves they say, "Judge not lest you be judged"
Unfortunately, there are times I don't think we always realize the importance of actual study of the Word. There's often much to be learned when we look into the original meaning of words and the cultural context the verses were written from. All too often I read an article or listen to someone's soap box about a scripture that they use to justify their opinion, when in reality they clearly haven't paid any attention to when and why those verses were written in the first place. I thank God that the Word is alive, that Holy Spirit breathes on it, and we don't have to be a theologian or greek scholar to read it, learn from it, be transformed by it, but I also find it so sad when people try to create a doctrine out of verses that are taken way out of context.
The word translated "judge" is the Greek word Krino which is used 114 times. Of those 114 times it is translated over seven different ways, 88 of those times it's translated as judge. The definition for the word Krino can mean: -To separate, pick out, or choose -To approve, esteem, or prefer -To be of opinion, to think, to deem -to judge by pronouncing right or wrong -to pronounce judgement by subject or censure, to decide on a punishment -to rule or govern over, presiding over with power -to contend, to dispute
In attempt to not "judge" others and be "tolerant" we've created a group of people in my generation who no longer know the difference between what is pleasing to God and what isn't. They have not learned how to discern between good and evil (Heb. 5:14) or test the spirits (1 John 4:1) in order to know what type of spirit is at work. We've allowed the fear of being called a hypocrite, intolerant, or a judge, to keep us from using discernment and standing up for Truth. Often in the name of love we've watered down Truth so that we don't run the risk of hurting someone's feelings or offending them. I will be the first to preach the unconditional "love walk", but there's a reality that Love is fully Truth as much as it is fully grace. Love will offer up its life for another, give away its last dollar, and humbly forgive the murderer while at the same time never making light of sin. I hate that often there are Christians who prefer to scream how much God hates homosexuality and yet I've never heard them mention the verses where Jesus Himself says, "do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also." (Matt. 5:39) or "if someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two. (Matt. 5:41) I find no delight in picking and choosing the scriptures that support our beliefs rather than reading scripture in its totality and forming our beliefs from it. This makes it difficult when I read about a Jesus who ate with sinners (this was very culturally inappropriate for believers), preached a gospel of love, and yet called people a "brood of vipers" (Matt. 23:23). I must as a believer be willing to look into the words of Jesus, ask Holy Spirit, and search for understanding (Prov. 4:5)
It is not fair that in the name of real "love", we've allowed people to play with fire, and then wonder why they're getting burned. We have to understand what the Word says about judgement.
Could it be that Jesus was not actually saying that we should always keep our mouths shut when we saw people in sin, but rather was trying to give us guidelines for how, when and what to "judge". It's interesting that He would say "judge not..." and then shortly after say, "judge with right judgement".
Is it possible when He said judge not, He meant, you have no right to enact punishment or to condemn (by definition)? We know that in 1 John 4 it says, "Perfect love casts out fear, because fear has to do with punishment". I am never given the right in the Word to be the "judge" the word that means the ruler who enacts judgement, however I am often instructed to "judge" by separating, discerning, and knowing the difference between what is right, just, noble, Godly, and what is evil, unjust, and ungodly.
Learning to separate someone's sin from their identity should be a definite. Having a pure heart yourself is your main priority. Walking in the Spirit is imperative. "Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted." (Gal 6:1) "If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over." (Matt. 18:15) "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye." (Matt. 7:5)
Have you noticed in scripture that how we handle sin in a believer and how we handle sin in a non-believer is actually different? In each of the verses above it is talking about correcting or "judging" sin in a believer. I don't tell you the Truth about your actions because I have a need to be right, I don't do it if my heart is not pure, I don't do it because "you're a sinner" actually I do it because you're not. As we say often in Redding, "the truth is you're way too awesome to be acting like that" and there's a much better way to live according to scripture.
Jesus had no problem lounging at a table with sinners. They were tax collectors and sinners and everyone knew it. When the pharisees saw Jesus doing this they questioned the disciples as to why He would eat with sinners. During that time, culturally when you invited someone into your home for a meal it was evidence that you accepted them. It was a HUGE DEAL. It was basically putting a stamp of approval on that person and showing your allegiance to them. The pharisees were saying, "WHY would a man who claims to know God or worse, say He's the SON OF GOD, show commitment to sinners?" Notice Jesus had absolutely no "fear of man" in Him. He was pure, He knew His heart before God, He knew His purpose, so He had no problem knowing that His heart before God was not tainted by showing God's desire for their sin to be obliterated and God's desire for ALL MEN to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4) Jesus was here to draw men unto God not to condemn them away from Him (John 3:17)
At the same time that we see Jesus lounging with sinners we see in 1 Cor. 5:11-13 that Paul is instructing the Corinthians that if someone is claiming to be a believer and continues to practice various sin lifestyles that you are NOT supposed to eat with him. This wasn't referring to people who didn't know what they were doing was wrong. This wasn't referring to people who hadn't been given a chance to repent. This was not referring to people who hadn't been given Truth and ample amount of time to make an effort to stop sinning (Heb. 12:4) In other words, culturally, do not put your stamp of approval on them if they are unwilling to repent. Do not let people believe that their lifestyle is okay as a follower of Christ when we have already told you that their actions are not congruent with the Kingdom of God. Then he makes this statement,
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. (1 Cor. 5:12-13)
The reality is that the Word makes some things evidently clear and yes honestly some things are left open for interpretation and further study. There are things that Jesus and the authors in scripture make it black and white for us to see that believers don't act like this. There are some things that are laid out when this happens, do this, when that happens do that. Studying out who it was written to, why it was written, what was the culture of that day, helps us understand things better. When we're talking about "judging" knowing what the word "judge" means is vitally important. I don't "judge" people, but I am capable and supposed to discern actions and fruits. I never condemn people, but I should inform them (in love and gentleness) about who God is, what He's like, what He likes, what He doesn't. Understanding that when I speak the Truth in love to someone my goal is not for them to think that they are "terrible" but rather to see that the enemy has them trapped in bondage and God has a much better way for them to live.
I am so thankful for the mentors, friends, and pastors in my life who have encouraged me, supported me, and gave me stamps of approval, but honestly I'm even more thankful for when they've spoken Truth to something I had wrong, told me no when I was about to make a mistake, disciplined me, and showed me a better way. In doing so, they prevented so much heartache, pain, and many mistakes. It should always be love for God and love for the person that causes us to correct or admonish. We must always be on the lookout to discern the spirits and know when things are of God and when they are of Satan.
This is honestly just the beginning of pages I would love to write on judgement, but I hope it will open our eyes to what judgement truly is, when it's appropriate, when it's not. I hope it will inspire you to do a little study and search out the Word of God, dig deeper, and ask questions. My concern is that if we don't teach people to "judge" when and what the Bible tells us to judge we'll allow people to destroy their lives, their marriages, or worse to glide into hell out of ignorance and not informed decision.
Be Blessed, J. Tate
The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. (1 Cor. 2:15)
Just kidding. Just Kidding.