December 7

Don’t Judge; Go Ahead and Judge, Part 2

John 7:24 Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

I Corinthians 5:12-13 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.”

I Corinthians 6:1-3a Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels?

We are never called to judge with condemnation in our hearts; we leave that kind of judging to God, who alone is able to judge the heart of another. We are not to be unkind, negative or critical toward our Christian brothers; that is sin.

But yesterday’s quotation of Matthew 7:1-5 (about the plank in our eye and the speck in our brother’s) indicates that we are to be involved in making judgment calls with some of our brothers and sisters. The main idea of the text is not to stop making evaluations of another’s sin, but to realize our own sinfulness, get some perspective via repentance and humility, and then we are able to help remove the speck from another’s eye.

I Corinthians goes further in describing situations where we are actually called to judge. In situations where one brother (or sister) is opposed to another in the church, proper judgment of the situation (which presumably means evaluation plus settling of the issue) is assigned to the church. To do that righteously involves making judgment calls. Nothing here implies a negative or critical attitude, but rather a cool, discerning approach that honors God, His word, and the people involved.

I Corinthians 5:13 even quotes Deuteronomy in advising the church that sometimes the proper judgment of a situation involved putting someone out of fellowship. Just because proper church discipline is rarely applied doesn’t mean that there is not clear direction for it in God’s word.

Since the Lord is the Ultimate Judge, we might ask why He would entrust us with matters of judgment here on earth. One is clearly the stewarding of His authority in the context of properly pastoring (and protecting) local churches. The other is more cosmic: We’re going to be judging angels. If that’s the case, it’s good to get proper and godly practice in it on this side of the grave.

Prayer: Father, help me to make proper value judgments and judgment calls in situations where I have the authority and even Your call to do so. May I have Your heart and the mind of Christ when I do this. Please take out anything in me that would compromise the process, and help me to be led by Your love and Your Spirit.

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