Thursday, October 22

What's All the Talk About Being Judgmental?

If you can "fog a mirror," you've heard someone accuse another of being "judgmental." As a pastor I can say that few subjects are more misunderstood than judging. What does it mean that a Christian shouldn't judge anything? And if they can, when is it right?

Everyone seems to have "down pat" Matthew 7:1-5 passage, "Judge not that you be not judged. . . . " Fewer seem to have looked into the subject further to see if they've captured the fullness of this necessary truth. It's necessary because how we understand this doctrine determines how we treat people and if we honor God.


Well, this cannot be true if only we turned to John 7:24, "Do not judge by appearances, but JUDGE WITH RIGHT JUDGMENT." Seems plain enough. Consider also, 1 Corinthians 2:15, "The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one." Consider the verses immediately following our Matthew 7:1 portion. In verse 6, it says, "Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs." In other words, be careful to whom you present the gospel. If they do not want to hear it, don't force it. They simply cannot understand it yet. (No, we are not pronounce epithets on unbelievers--"dogs, pigs"). He is just saying that as a dog cannot see the value of holy items, nor pigs appreciate pearls, so too, the lost cannot appreciate holy things. The POINT? The believer has to make a call here, a call which requires discernment to know who is or who is not a "dog," or "pig." This discernment is nothing less than a judgment. So, right after Matthew urges us not to judge, he says that we must be discerning. The point again? Do not judge people's motives; you cannot see them, so it's wrong to assume them.


There is a difference between "judging," and being "judgmental." The first is the objective act of making a judgment call, the second describes one who is known for habitually making judgments--or being excessively critical. The same thing goes for "condemn" and "condemnatory." What is to be avoided, of course, is the proud sense of superiority that some assume in thinking that they are the ones who are supposed to pass judgment on all things whether or not they have any connection to it at all. A meddling spirit, or a superiority attitude are both to be deplored, repented of and summarily forsaken.

Many folks' interest is piqued with regard to this subject, presumably because no one wants their motives to be judged like this. Others resist judgment of any kind because they are patently living wrongly (and they know it), but they are trying to slip out from under the pressure of friends and family holding them accountable for their actions. They don't want anyone telling them what to do!


The Scriptures are clear that there is no place for the presumptuous judging of people's motives. All that is left to God who sees the heart. But there is a need for godly, discerning judgment in our lives. We must not allow the sin of the former to negate the biblical necessity of the later. 


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