Monday August 17, 2009
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. Matthew 7:1
I am always amused by news reports reporting that a person has committed an alleged crime; why not just say he or she has committed the crime? The simple answer is that the perpetrator cannot be said to have committed the crime unless judged and found guilty! To judge some-one assumes guilt which may or may not be appropriate.
Particularly in conversation, and worse still in print, to judge someone without trial or certain evidence is slander until proven. When it comes to Christian responsibility, God is the final judge for he knows all the facts, which we rarely do. So judging another may not only be false, but puts us at risk of placing ourselves under the same summary judgment.
Yet if we analyse our conversations, probably a large percentage may fall under the category of finding fault with another, especially if it is not taken in face to face discussion with that person. Those conversations fall under the dreadful heading of gossip which is not the pastime of all, but shamefully true of many of us who call ourselves Christians.
Jesus charged us to go to our brother—or sister!—if we have something against them so that the issue might be resolved. Yet even here, Scripture tells us to address the issue by speaking the truth in love. So we must ask ourselves if we really love that person—with all the practical indicators that love requires!
I know my wife loves me, so I can accept her advice or criticism as given for my well-being, but a relative stranger or acquaintance who puts his arm around my shoulders and says: “Brother, I am saying this to you in love . . .” just doesn’t cut it. I don’t know that he loves me, and probably doesn’t, if he has never taken the opportunity to demonstrate it.
But surely it is necessary to judge another’s actions right or wrong to ensure my own integrity? Here it is necessary to distinguish between judgment and discernment. To evaluate another’s behaviour does not involve judging the other’s actions as wrong or right, but whether it is edifying for me to engage in similar action. This distinction is necessary to ensure the growth of our own Christian maturity.
Frankly, I’m glad I don’t have to make the final judgment on anyone else. It is tricky and humbling enough to try to determine that my own motives and actions are consistent with my profession of faith without assessing those of someone else!