Sunday, August 29, 2010

Judgmental Christians


This one is going to make some people angry.

That is not the reason why I am writing it, though. Lately I have seen so many people getting bent out of shape and yelling that Christians can’t judge them. “Only God can judge me!”

By the way, if you are having to constantly make yourself feel better by saying that, you are probably doing something wrong.

Is this idea true? Can only God judge? Well, if you want to be technical, Jesus said that God has passed all judgment on to Him. But are Christians forbid from judging? Every time someone’s Facebook status is “Only God can judge me,” they usually follow it up with Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”

Standing alone, that verse certainly seems like a universal command to not judge anybody. But the passage goes on to say that we will be judged back by others when we judge (I thought only God judges us!). The whole “get the log out your own eye before you judge the speck in mine” argument is really foolish. Jesus finishes that verse by saying to get the log out your eye, THEN you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brothers eye.

How do you know there is a speck in your brother’s eye? By making a judgment.

What Jesus is condemning is hypocritical judgments—those made by people living in sin themselves. This is like a man who looks at pornography or a woman who sleeps with her boyfriend judging a homosexual. You are in no position to make a judgment when you yourself are living in sin.

Judgment is also condemned when it is done for the purpose of trying to make the person feel bad, or to make you feel better about yourself. Jesus said to remove the speck in your brother’s eye; we do this to make them better.

Don’t pretend you never judge people. If you wake up at 2:00 AM to a noise outside your window, and you investigate the noise and see a man dressed all in black wearing a ski mask and holding a giant bag with a dollar sign on it, what would you do? You’d better not call the cops. After all, only God can judge him.

In John 7:24 Jesus said “Judge not according to the appearance of man, but judge righteous judgment.” What? A command to judge? From Jesus?

*For the record, the outward appearance here doesn’t refute the armed robber from the previous paragraph; Jesus is referring to judging a book by its cover and writing people off. By the way, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but you can judge it on its content.
The reason we prefer the “judge not” sermon over the actual command of Jesus is that the former frees us to live however we want to without conviction, while the latter puts the ball in our court to keep any logs out of our eyes. It also sets us up to be judged back.

Most people are familiar with the passage for church discipline found in Matthew 18:15-20; that is the passage that says we go to someone one on one, then with a few witnesses, then before the church. Verse 15 clearly says that if your brother sins against you, go to him privately about the matter. Yet whenever that happens today, all we hear about is, “You can’t judge me!”

Remember, we are not the judgment police, constantly on patrol to find someone to judge. I know we are constantly branded as being agents of hate who think we are perfect, but nothing could be farther from the truth. The only reason we “judge” is to make people better. If a professing Christian is doing something wrong, Galatians 6 tells us to help them get right.

When people lovingly show me an area where I need to get better, I may not like hearing it, but as a Christian I ultimately appreciate it and welcome the chance to become more like Christ. What Christian wouldn’t?

So if there is a log in your eye, remove it. And once you have, if you see a speck in your brother’s eye, lovingly help them remove it.

If a brother is lovingly helping you remove your own speck, don’t blast them (or use a Facebook status) about not being able to judge; they are just doing what Jesus commanded and trying to make you better.

If you plan on leaving a negative comment, please remember that only God can judge my blogs.

(Read Dogmatic Christians here)
(Read Close-Minded Christians here)

6 comments:

Tommy Mann said...

For the record, I do understand that there are a lot of judgmental people out there. As soon as I finished writing this I went to the store, and there was a man in line behind me that I know attends a church. There was a family in front of me that was obviously not well dressed enough for the man behind me’s standards, and he was making loud remarks about their children’s behavior. He even said something that I thought was quite crude. Some would write him off as a judgmental Christian, but what I am trying to get people to realize is that you can’t reconcile his behavior with Christianity. I don’t see from the Bible where you can be a Christian and treat people like that. Is he a judgmental Christian? No, he is probably not a Christian.

There is a difference between making righteous judgment in love and in being judgmental.

CrossKeysMom said...

Thank you for an awesome essay about one of the most misunderstood verses & ideas in the Bible! I want your opinion about my take on the judging controversy... Jesus said he did not come into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. However, He is the judge of whether or not someone will be in the presence of God for eternity (saved) or spend eternity in hell (condemned). This position as judge of a person's soul is not ours and never will be. We are not given the authority to judge in this manner, that is, to hand down a sentence... guilty or not guilty. We are, however, expected to make a judgment concerning a person's character (fruit). When God tells me that bad company corrupts good character, I must make judgments about a person based on the fruit they exhibit as to whether they are "bad company." I would be remiss in my parental duties if I didn't judge the friends my kids hang around with. Notice I went from saying "make judgments" to "judge." I think that's where the confusion is. It's a matter of semantics or definition. I am not the judge of a person's soul, ie, I do not have the authority to hand down a sentence. I do have the responsibility to judge character/behavior/words/attitudes for the purpose of directing someone into a right relationship with God,the judge of their soul, or to determine if they are fit company. And that, only in light of what you said in your blog-- when I've first examined myself!

Tommy Mann said...

CrossKeysMom,

I think you are absolutely right. In John 3 Jesus said that He did not come to condemn the world BECAUSE the world was already condemned by their unbelief. This is a world full of condemned people, and we each have to exercise godly judgment because of it.

What kind of mom would you be if you allowed your children to hang around just anybody? If children display the lifestyle described in Romans 1 then your children have no business hanging out with them, only telling them about Jesus. You and your children are not passing down their verdict or sentence, but you are making wise decisions in not allowing them to corrupt your family.

But this is not just about children. Sometimes we think because we are adults that we won’t be affected by the people we spend time with. However, as I see time and time again in my line of work, the “bad company” always brings down the godly person, not vice versa.

CrossKeysMom said...

So true! How can I tell my Sunday School students that they will probably have to end certain friendships as they grow closer to the Lord if I have not had that experience myself; or tell them to quit watching ungodly TV show/movies if I'm unwilling to keep clear of this "bad company." I want to scream every time I hear "for mature audiences only" due to the foul language and sexual content. As Christians, we don't strive for maturity... we strive for HOLINESS!

BTW: I've judged your blog to be one worth reading & passing along :)

Jaime said...

I love this blog. I have dealt with this so much at our church. If I lovingly bring to attention a sin to someone, I am then crucified it seems. This has happened over and over, and it's not that I like to call out sin. It's that I have seen this sin in a particular brother or sister and don't want them to get deeper into this sin and die...therefore, I bring it to their attention. It has just been awful. Such misunderstood and misinterpreted scripture from these people. It's so frustrating that people can't read the Bible and see what it says. I care for their souls. Should I let them continue on in sin? Of course not...but sometimes to avoid such hatred toward myself, sometimes I think it's safer (for myself) to just walk on eggshells. Ugh...
Anyway, thanks for this post. Thanks for udnerstanding the Bible, lol!!

Tommy Mann said...

Jaime,

Thanks for your comment. I'm sorry to hear about what you are facing, but unfortunately, that is what all pastors will face when they stand on the Word of God.

If a doctor recognizes that someone has cancer, he must tell that patient, no matter how hard that conversation is. No doctor would say, "I just want to show them love and acceptance, so I will not mention the cancer." Yet we do that with life-threatening sin.

The doctor will order chemotherapy, which is not fun, but it may save the person's life. Conviction is never fun but it is also what saves people's lives if it leads to repentance.

Keep up the good work Jaime.