Tuesday, March 29

A Brief Case FOR Christians Judging

One of the most frequently recurring questions that arises during my classes here at church is one which revolves around judging. Let me correct two misconceptions right away: 1) the overexposure given to one passage of Scripture which jades most Christians' ability to discern the truth, and 2) a misunderstanding of terms. First, the passage, of course, to which I refer is Matthew 7:1-2, 
1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.
Now, for some reason, out of all the verses in the Bible these two seem to have become indelibly branded on most people's minds, including, it appears, the unredeemed! Just whisper the word "judge" and everyone will be ready to pounce on it and warn of the abuse, or ironically, judge the one making a judgment!? Naturally, there is an important truth in these verses that we must see. But the essence of the warning centers around motives. We are not to judge the motives of another person, because we cannot really "see" those motives. This is fair and accurate. Let's all heed this. Second, there is often a confusion of terms. Scripture tells us to judge, but warns us against being judgmental. It warns us to exercise deft criticism, yet not to be of a critical spirit; to condemn without being condemnatory. Some (perhaps many) who have been so accused have backed off completely. This I would warn (Paul warns) is not to be our default position.

So, just to cite one passage regarding judging, please read 1 Corinthians 6:1–8,
1 When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! 4 So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? 5 I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, 6 but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? 7 To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? 8 But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers! 
Let me just point out a couple of things that demonstrate the value, the importance, yes, the necessity of doing what our Lord bids us. Paul is warning the Corinthian church about taking one another to court, specifically worldly courts. He cites several factors which dictate that we avoid such a misstep. 

First, the world is unrighteous, we are saints, i.e., "holy ones" given wisdom from God. This should truly enable us to make godly decisions.

Second, he argues from the greater to the lesser. Don't you know that you'll judge the world? So, he logically deduces, if you will eventually be the judges of the WORLD, why can't you decide much smaller cases? Wow! Who'd have thought of that? God did. 

Third, now Paul argues for Christians to judge because, as he says, we will judge angels* one day. So, he concludes, if we will judge angels in eternity, ought we not to be able to judge the temporary issues that arise now? So, here he argues from eternity to the temporal.

Fourth, Paul urges the church to behave as those truly sanctified (that is, "made holy"). If you've become new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), then why not take the loss? He puts it two ways: Why not suffer wrong? Why not be defrauded? Yes, why not? That's a great question. Why must we insist on getting them back? Why do we have to "win" the argument? One of the best ways to show we love Jesus Christ first, is in how we respond when someone abuses us, or tries to get one over on us. What do we do, Christian? Can we defer to another brother or sister? And can we do this without getting credit for it? What a valuable lesson is in this portion of God's word. And Oh, what a relief it would be to exercise our freedom in Christ in such a way that even if someone treats us unjustly, our response will be one of loving, measured patience, leaving the result in God's hands. (See 1 Peter 3:14-17)
Does this sound too strange to be true? It IS the way of Christ. It is what fills the heart of the true believer. It is one of the virtues which grace produces, which in turn elicits a happy heart. Happiness is very good, isn't it? On which side of this issue do you fall? God help us to carefully examine our own hearts in this matter, and believe the written Word of God!

*Regarding judging angels. . . It's either bad or good angels (or both). We know that the fallen angels will be judged (Mt. 8:29; 1 Cor. 6:3; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). Some are inclined to see good angels in 1 Corinthians 6:3, because none are specified, and fallen angels are usually delineated. But this passage does not prove the case. If the good angels are judged it would be on the basis (probably) of their performance, like an evaluation (Grudem). What makes it more interesting is that angels are referred to as God's instruments in the work of judgment (Mt. 13:30, 41; 25:31; 2 Thess. 1:7-8). Are Christians involved in this judgment? These Scriptures would teach so (Ps. 149:5-9; 1 Cor. 6:2-3; Rev. 20:4). (Culled from Berkhof's Systematic Theology)


Jack Hager said...

Perhaps deemed simplistic, but it helps me...how do I know if I am judging righteously?
Since I am still prone to sin there is no perfect way, but if it PAINS me to judge, I think I'm probably okay; if I find JOY in judging I'm more than likely way off base...

Steve Finnell said...

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