Thursday, September 13, 2012

On Judgment

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I was saddened today to hear of a pastor in another city stepping down from his position due to a moral failure.

It happens.  People are people; we all  have weaknesses and blindspots and an amazing capacity for self-deception, so that we are able to pretend to the point of convincing ourselves that we don't see the train coming.

We have seen it near by; I watched as it was walked through; repentance walked out and the whole situation redeemed.  It is possible.

When all of that broke, I remember hearing a little warning in my spirit. "When you judge someone for something, you open the door to the enemy to attack you in that area."


Josh McDowell has said that the most quoted verse in the Bible is 'Judge not'.  (Matt. 7:1a).  But we don't often finish the verse...'that ye be not judged' (KJ)   '...unless you want the same treatment' (Message).

I looked up the word that is translated 'judge' in that verse; it is krino in the Greek, and it means to distinguish, i.e., decide (mentally or judicially); by imp. to try, condemn, punish  

Our concept of judging often is 'to pronounce error'.  While it may seem to be the same, it is not.

If someone is driving 30 miles an hour over the speed limit, to state that they are breaking the law is not judging.  It is stating a fact.  It is comparing an action to an impartial, objective standard and finding difference, based on facts.

Judging would be to make a decision about character based on the observation; i.e. 'What a horrid person that is to be endangering others in that way!  Who does he think he is!' ...when in fact, the person may be driving over the speed limit because someone is hollering into their Blue Tooth, 'I can't get the bleeding to stop!' or 'The contractions are just three minutes apart now!' or some other such thing.    It's still true that they're breaking the law, but the moral judgements would be totally in error.

If an objective standard is broken, it's broken.  It is not judging to state the obvious in that case.  But what we must guard ourselves against is  assuming that which only God can know for sure.  Motives, attitudes,  intentions...these are not things you and I can know.  But we often make those assumptions based on observed actions...deciding someone is haughty because they did not speak when we expected it;  assuming, as Job's friends did, that a misfortune in someone's life is a result of their own secret sin;  expecting that all (fill in the people group) will (fill in a negative expectation).

I could go on.  We see/hear it all the time.  Couched as opinion, or even experience, it is not even recognized as judgmental.  But what doors do such things open?

Conversely, looking at the objective Word and pointing out that it clearly displays an action as against God's standard is not being judgmental.  Arbitrarily deciding that God's standard doesn't apply, for one reason or another, does not actually invalidate the standard.  It is still His standard.  It still applies to everyone.  It doesn't change with the times.  And that is not my's what He says.  To dismiss that standard as 'judgmental'  doesn't just open's like walking out from the shelter on a stormy day.

And folks who do that do not need judgment, they need compassion.  How else can we bring them back into a place of protection from the storm?


  1. Thank you! I have long been wrestling with the difference between 'judge not'-type judging and discernment. Your essay helps clarify this difference. People in my (middle-aged, middle-class Christian) group are so frequently obliquely accused of being intolerant, it is sometimes uncomfortable to stand up for something. Thank you for the reminder of how to determine judgement vs. discernment, and the reminder to provide compassionate care to all of us who act against God's standard at times.

  2. Thank you - I needed this today. I witnessed something last night at church that left me so upset at a particular individual. I knew this person was manipulating another with half-truths. But I know there have been times when I've been guilty of the same. Funny how we can recognize our own self (if we're truthful) while watching someone else.

    I'm constantly reminded that he's the Potter and I'm the clay and He's still working on me.

  3. Thank you, ladies. I appreciate your comments so much...I've been challenged to have a stronger voice on the blog and it is just a wee bit outside my comfort zone. You're encouraging me more than you know... ;-)