Judge Me. It's a popular catch phrase. Usually, we say it when we're
joking or admitting to a guilty pleasure. As in, "I watch The Bachelor. Don't judge." (For the record--that is an example. I don't. See--I don't want to be judged.)
Freeee! I'm free, I tell you.
“Don't Judge Me” has also become our culture's latest universal
demand. No matter what I might do, don't anyone dare judge me for it.
I'm a free agent. No one has any right to take me to task for any
choice I might make. It's the greatest sin of modern America—to
judge someone. That is, if we still believed in sin.
judge, according to the online dictionary,
has several meanings. Basically, they come down to this: to form a
careful opinion or make a critical decision based on evidence.
what's not in this definition. There is no assessment of a person's
character. It does not include a moral determination of whether the
person being judged is a good person. It's a clear, evidence-based
determination of one case. Did the person do right or wrong?
made it into a character assessment. That's why we feel “judged”
as people whenever someone lets us know, tactfully or not, that
something we did was questionable. We've even called it being judged
when someone just disagrees with us. If we can't agree on a
definition, how can we know whether or not we are judging someone? Or
we have to take this all one more step and ask—but what about
within the church?
are confused, especially given current events. What do we do with
leaders who have fallen? Forgive and forget? Fire and forget? The
Bible says not to judge—is that the standard we need to keep here?
That seems to be the opinion of those telling us we're “being
judgmental” in taking people out of leadership positions. (Which is
kind of funny, since those people then are judging the ones they say
are judging the leaders. By their own definition. But . . . oh this is
getting really confusing.)
wait—the Bible also says that teachers should be held accountable
for their teaching. Paul tells us to judge one another (1 Corinthians
5). Which one is
it? And how do we know which road to take in which circumstances?
What is the difference between accountability and judgment?
wish there was a clearly marked yellow brick road that could tell us
exactly how to do this accountability thing. There, are however, some
guidelines in Scripture that help.
do Christians judge Biblically?
don't make it personal.
are honest with someone about a behavior we witnessed. We do not make
that into an attack on their character. Jesus told Peter (quite
forcefully!) that trying to stop him from going to the cross was a
short-term selfish plan. Jesus did not imply that Peter was a selfish
being. He turned around and trusted him again with his friendship and
ministry. He did not allow mistakes to turn into personal identities.
judge only on facts we know.
“just say no” to gossip and slander about another person. We
refuse to listen to it, let alone allow it to influence the way we
see or treat the person it was about. Matthew says that if we have an
issue with a brother or sister, we go to that person (Mathew
18.15-17). Not our best friend, or the youth pastor, or the group of
people standing around the coffee pot. Judgment is not to be crowd
said we must exercise both truth and grace. Too heavy on the first,
and we become a Pharisee, wanting to be judge and jury for any
infraction we might imagine but with little understanding of our own
fallibility. Err too far on the grace side, and it becomes all peace
and love with no correction. It's not truly loving to let a person go
down in flames when we could have warned them at least. Don't
confront someone without genuine love in your heart for them. Also,
don't love someone unless you're willing to tell them hard truth.
recognize when choices are different, not wrong.
when we're upset about someone's choices, it's not that those choices
are sinful but that they are uncomfortable. They are different than
what we would choose. That does not make them wrong.
have a painful example of this. Several years back, my daughter
wanted to buy a Tshirt in support of the Day of Silence at high
school. I said no. I didn't want my child supporting homosexual
behavior. The more I thought about it, though, the more I
realized—she didn't want to support the behavior. She wanted to support
her friends, and their right to go through a school day without being
harassed or hurt. It made me uncomfortable, but my daughter was closer to
following her WWJD bracelet than I was. Our choices were different,
but neither one was categorically wrong.
“Brothers and sisters,
if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual
should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself,
lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill
the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is
nothing, he deceives himself.” (Galatians 6)
how? By first remembering we could be just as guilty just as easily.
By thinking of the last time were were tempted to fall just short of
the mark. Or the last time we did. Jesus' main quarrel with the
Pharisees judging was not that they did but the way in which they
did. With pride and apparent enjoyment.
with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the
measure you use it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7.1-2). In
other words, do you really want to judge someone harshly? Do you secretly enjoy being
the righteous one? Are you the one on my Facebook feed always posting stories about people's stupid choices and saying how much you'd like to see them punished? Then expect to have those tables turned.
“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.” Recognize
your own frailty—then things will be much clearer.
are reluctant to cast the first stone.
we are eager to be the first in line when we sense a wrong somewhere,
we'd better check our attitude. Christians filled with God's grace
and truth do not want to judge one another. We do so as Paul did,
reluctantly when necessary. Beware of those who take every
opportunity to showcase their ability to “cleanse the temple.”
That's the work of pride, not Jesus.
earn the right to speak.
We earn it by being a part of another
person's life, not a fly-by critic. We've taken the time to develop a
relationship. We care all the time, not just when we want to point
out a fault. We don't tell someone we hardly know how to live a
used to be a “don't judge me” kind of person. I bridled at any
attempt at even perceived criticism. I've learned. The disciples
needed accountability. The early church leaders needed
accountability. I need accountability to become what God wants me to
become. It's not a dirty word. I'm grateful for the people in my life
with the courage to confront issues that don't bring glory to God.
judgmental is a bad thing. Being a good judge, however, is not. We
should all be fortunate enough to have those around.