Why Christians Should Judge.
To judge or not to Judge...
Mathew 7:1 admonishes us not to judge for fear of being judged ourselves. But is that really the only reason not to judge? Furthermore, what is judgment actually, and is it ever ok for a Christian to do?
We will discuss common definitions of judgment, consider its implications to Christian life and morality, and come to a conclusion based on the evidence.
Epistemological/Cognitive Definition-- Without getting into too much philosophy, cognitively the act of "judging" is the 2nd of three steps when perceiving a person, thing, or new idea.
Basically, Cognitive judgments occur whenever we affirm or deny something about a subject. For example, if I say "x" is blue but not white, I have made two judgments, one affirming an attribute, and one denying an attribute of the subject. Based on this model we make thousands of unconscious judgments every day.
Judicial Definition--- In the Judicial system judgment is concerned with Justice, and is two fold by 1) assigning either innocence or guilt to a subject based on legality, and 2) Discerning the appropriate form and amount of punishment. Typically the people who carry this out are 1) law enforcement who been trained and entrusted for the task, 2) judges who have been elected by people, and 3) a jury who is selected through a relatively rigorous process. Still, this form of judging through the Justice System fails occasionally.
Biblical Greek Definitions-- On of the most common NT Greek verbs is Krino (κρίνω ) which occurs 114 times in the NewTestament. It has a myriad of meanings: To separate, to approve, to pronounce right or wrong, and to rule or govern.
The Biblical Side of Judging
The Bible says quite a lot about Christians judging:
-Don't judge the splinter in your neighbors eye when you have a plank (Matthew 7:1-5)
-Judge not by appearance but by right judgment (John 7:24)
-Avoid causing divisions in the Church (Romans 6:17)
-Correct transgression in a spirit of gentleness (Galatians 6:1)
-The Spiritual person judges all things (1 Cor 2:15)
The answer seems to be a qualified yes. In some sense it is o.k., and perhaps even necessary for Christians to judge.
Obviously when we talk about the problems with Christians judging we are talking about them doing it to humans. There is no moral problem with realizing that the sky is blue. But there can be problems with judging the actions or character of another human person. So, let's finally get to it, when is it o.k., and not o.k., to judge another human person?
As Christians we have a duty to know right from wrong, and most times we also are obliged to tell people that what they are doing not only hurts their relationship with God, but other people as well. It is not our job however to condemn, alienate, or be superior to others. Here we must remember Christ's words, "whoever has not sinned, may cast the first stone." He wasn't saying the action wasn't wrong, he was saying that since all of us are guilty of sin, we have no basis to think ourselves better than anyone else.
Therefore, when one of your friends lies to someone, you have a duty to tell them its wrong (maybe they don't know), but you do NOT have the right to tell them they are going to hell or to make yourself out to be better than they are because of that. Which of us has never lied before? Condemnation is not only inherently prideful (and hence hypocritical), it also divides Christian unity and many times turns people AWAY from Christ. Do you want to be the cause of that?
The Other Side of Virtue
Judging can be thought of as a virtue, and we've already seen what happens when you judge too much... but what can happen when you don't judge enough? You get people who are so afraid of hurting other peoples feelings that they instead allow the world to live in sin. They say, "oh, if HE doesn't think lying/stealing/killing is wrong, who am I to challenge his beliefs". Even if they know what is right and wrong (and sometimes they're not even comfortable judging THAT), they refuse to impose their judgment on others. That is judgment in deficiency, and that can be just as bad as judgment in excess.
So my readers, ask yourselves, "Am I judging Justly, with love and in the correct amounts?"
© 2011 R D Langr