"Judge carefully" … "Do not judge" … "Judge for yourself" … "Stop judging" – the Bible
Well, is it okay to judge or not? The above texts aren't helpful, are they? It's no wonder: They're extracted from their contexts! Furthermore, words like "judge" or "judgment" convey a wide range of meanings, such as wise discernment, unjust condemnation, or God's cosmic lawsuit against the world.
I raise this topic today out of sheer frustration. I'm distressed by the pervasive misuse of this literary pearl in Scripture — a word that, if used well, could build maturity among God's people.
Consider the following bold defense of self-righteousness: "I have the right to live as I choose, and since the Bible says, 'Do not judge', you have no right to question me. Period!"
That's a door-closer! It suggests that good Christians protect others from the discomfort of conviction. We all too easily assume such a "responsibility" — and then feel guilty for "making" someone feel badly or offended. Our conscience condemns us. We've judged ourselves according to a human law. That's not sound judgment! It's not right judgment! It's self-condemnation!
Do you see why I am so troubled by this exploitation of the word "judge"? It tempts God's people to retreat into silence, out of fear of condemnation. So today, I invite you to consider Scriptures which portray judging as a virtue. You can check the context for yourself. Enjoy exploring these texts, all from the NIV:
- "Judge carefully, for with the Lord our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery." – Jehoshaphat to the appointed judges (2 Chronicles 19:7b)
- "Preserve sound judgment and discernment." – Solomon (Proverbs 3:21a)
- "Fools die for lack of judgment." – Solomon (Proverbs 10:21b)
- "Teach me knowledge and good judgment." (Psalm 119:66a)
- "Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment." – Jesus (John 7:24)
- "First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye" – Here Jesus is teaching the proper way to judge. (Matthew 7:5)
- "By their fruit you will recognize them." – Jesus (Matthew 7:20)
- "Think of yourself with sober judgment." – Paul (Romans 12:3b)
- "The spiritual man makes judgments about all things." – Paul (1 Corinthians 2:15a)
- "Judge for yourselves what I say" – Paul (1 Corinthians 10:15b)
- "It is time for judgment to begin with the family of God." – Peter (1 Peter 4:17a)
Prayer: Dear Lord, we admit that we easily resort to our own opinions or concede to the false judgment of others. We repent of our slothful habits in this matter. We ask You to awaken our sense of responsibility for gaining and using wise judgment. Amen.