Finger Pointing
I wish I had a dollar for every time I had an unbeliever offer a quote from Scripture they had absolutely no appreciation of.  I’ve never seen one quoted in context or accurately applied to the situation being discussed.  Add the fact that they personally believe & place value in Scriptural authority less than the recipient of their shallow puddles of wisdom, and it’s very hard to give them the credibility of a serious response.  One of the most common retorts to an assertion of absolute Truth confronting moral relativism is, “Jesus said, ‘Judge not lest ye be judged!‘”

Are we allowed to judge? Didn’t Jesus say not to?

If you don’t know which book, chapter & verse of the Bible this is from, you really should find out & read the whole chapter before quoting it.  It’s Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that you be not judged.

The problem is with the oversimplification of how that word “judge” is used.

Is a judge in a court sinning when they judge? Is a jury? Is a shopper, judging which nutritional plan and products best benefit their family, sinning, and not actually wisely employing sound judgement? Is a voter not meant to critically analyse and debate the merits of any given idea, issue, or philosophy when casting their vote and thus influencing the direction of their city, state and nation, and even their children’s social inheritance?

Of course we are meant to judge.

When people simplistically throw this verse in your face as apparent proof of your weak Christianity, they only prove they have not read the whole chapter, placing that verse in context.

The actual point Jesus was making in Matthew 7:1 was, “Don’t condemn people.” The rest of the chapter takes great pains to instruct people to use sound judgement in discerning the difference between good fruit and bad fruit, good teaching and bad teaching, good and bad arguments, ideas, issues, worldviews and philosophies.

This is supported in the wider context of Scripture with other verses like John 7:24, where Jesus said, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”  That’s an actual command to judge, and we know Jesus (God the Son) cannot contradict Himself, therefore any initially apparent contradiction must be a failure of understanding on our part.

There’s more confirmation in 1 Corinthians 2:15-16, “The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Some further Scriptures to provide a holistic context for doctrine:

  • Psalm 141:5 – “Let a righteous man strike me–that is a kindness; let him rebuke me–that is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it, for my prayer will still be against the deeds of evildoers.
  • Matthew 18:15 – “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.
  • 1 Corinthians 2:15 – “The person with the Spirit makes judgements about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgements,
  • 1 Corinthians 3:1 – “Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly–mere infants in Christ.
  • 1 Corinthians 4:21 – “What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?
  • 2 Corinthians 2:7 – “Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.
  • Galatians 6:1 – “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.

What about when people mix their metaphors with Scripture & insist Jesus didn’t throw stones? Well unless we’re talking about the capital punishment of being stoned to death, that’s simply irrelevant to any discussions on the rights & wrongs of various behaviours & philosophies.  Feel free to call wrong “wrong” without fear of being guilty of throwing stones.

Compassion and righteousness are not mutually exclusive.  Jesus absolutely did encourage and model both judgement and compassion existing in perfect harmony, with statements like, “Neither do I condemn you – go and sin no more”, directed at the woman caught in sexual sin. He didn’t literally throw stones, but he didn’t endorse her lifestyle, orientation or choice to sin. He was free to call wrong “wrong”, and accept her completely as she was.

As do I.

Yes, I love and have compassion for the people caught in desperate situations feeling like abortion is their only option.  But wrong is wrong.  Yes, I do ascribe equal personal value and worth to homosexuals, and compassionately care for the hurt and sexual/gender confusion that so many people in today’s relativistic cultures genuinely experience.  But wrong is wrong.

Leviticus 19:17 equates failure to warn of sin (“wrong is wrong”) to hating someone!  “Do not nurse hatred in your heart for any of your relatives. Confront people directly so you will not be held guilty for their sin.”

So don’t hate Truth, because Truth and righteous judgement isn’t hate. It’s love. And unless you’re condemning someone Christ has offered forgiveness to, you’re free and commanded to use good and righteous judgement.