Defining Judgment

Decorative Scales of Justice in the Courtroom

What Does Judging Look Like?

When I was a kid, I figured people who didn’t follow my family rules were automatically wrong. Of course, now that I’m an adult, I’ve learned a thing or two about personal opinions and I realize that some people have a harder time with certain areas (1 Cor. 8).

I’ve become more accepting, less judgmental, and tried to give people the benefit of a doubt.

The Bible says not to judge people. This command is all over Romans 2. My problem, however, is that I want desperately to avoid a ‘Politically Correct’ mindset. I worry about how ‘offendable’ we’re getting. It’s getting to the point where you can’t be honest with anyone. Especially as a Christian.

We are not permitted to inflict our morals on others, but they are very eager to press their lack of morals on us. I’m not allowed to be Pro Life because everyone should have the right to ‘choose,’ but I can’t choose to be Pro Life.

I’m not allowed to call anyone a sinner because that is labeling them. I used to use the phrase ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’ until a friend called me out on it and caused me to reevaluate what it meant. I can see how being called a sinner would put someone on the defensive immediately. What Christians fail to do sometimes is explain that we consider ‘sinner’ to be a synonym with ‘human.’ But even if we amend the statement to ‘hate the sin, love the person,’ there will still be offence. After all, who are we to say that what they’re doing is sin?

And that’s the thing: we are not the ones to call certain actions sin. The Bible is calling those actions sin.

1 John 5:17 says ‘all wrong doing in sin.’ And there are several verses that tell us to hold each other accountable. By ‘each other’ I mean Christians, not non-Christians.

But there can be no conversion without conviction of sin. How will a non-Christians know they need to be saved if they don’t believe they’re dying?

The problem is that the currant popular mindset says ‘if you disagree with me, then you’re judging me.’ And sadly, there are many judgmental people, Christians included (me included) out there. I don’t want to judge anyone, but neither do I want to remain silent if I see them living contrary to the Bible to the detriment of their spiritual, emotional, mental, and/or physical health.

So I need a better understanding of the term ’judging’ so I can avoid doing it but still love without fear of offending others.

Here is what I believe the Bible means, at least in part, when it says do not ‘judge.’

First, if I am talking about someone behind their back, that’s judging. If I love and care about this person, I will go to them with the concern I have, not broadcast it to others, even under the guise of ‘we really need to pray for them because…’

Second, if I avoid that person, or distance myself from them, that’s judging. Loving them means that I should go out of my way to let them know I care about them, and more importantly, so does Jesus.

Third, the second I start to think I’m better than them, that’s judging. The ground at the foot of the cross is level and sin is sin. I’m just as deserving of God’s wrath as anyone else.

Fourth, if I’m afraid to talk to them about sin, that’s judging. That fear comes from the assumption that they will reject me and what I have to say, that they will close their heart and walk away. If I have already spoken to someone about an issue, and they have disagreed, then there is no need to ‘beat a dead horse.’ It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict them of sin, not mine.

Which brings me to number five: if I am persistent in my endeavors to convict them of sin in my own power, that’s judging. Because I’m saying that their sin is so bad, they need my help on top of Jesus’ sacrifice and the Holy Spirit’s working if they are to have any hope.

In conclusion, I believe that truly loving someone means warning them. If I saw a friend doing something dangerous, and I kept silent and they got hurt, I would feel partial responsible. Ezekiel 33:6 is a pretty scary verse about what happens when we don’t warn others. The verse before it makes it quite clear that once we have issued that warning, then it’s the other person’s move.

I’m going to stop beating people up over sin. I’m going to love them enough to warn them, and after that, regardless of what they do with that warning, I’m going to pray for them, love them, and leave the judging to God.

So what do you think? Am I way off? How would you describe ‘judgement’?

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About Leah Ness

I am a self-professed story addict. Ever since I was little, I've had an overactive imagination and a passion for a well-spun yarn. When I grew up, I was blessed with a passion for God as well. It was then that I noticed a relative shortage of unique Christian fiction, the kind that can both captivate you and glorify God. So, despite the hurdles of things like commas and homonyms, I am endeavoring to write some of my own. Check out my Books page for updates on current and future books. View all posts by Leah Ness

2 responses to “Defining Judgment

  • Karen

    1 Corinthians says “the person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things” so the concept that we shouldnt judge at all is not the case. God’s people need to be discerning and learn to rely on His Spirit to help us judge between right and wrong according to His standards. thanks for a thought-provoking post!

    • Leah Ness

      I completely agree with you. The aim of the post was to point out the danger of falling into flesh-led criticism. I could have used the word ‘judge’ instead of ‘warn’ in my conclusion as I view the two as synonymous, but I was trying to avoid the negative connotation surrounding the word while I made my point. But again, you’re absolutely right. Thanks for bringing that up and thanks for reading =)

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