Monday, October 6, 2008

Judging: How to do it properly!

Several scriptures give clear direction: don't judge. Matt. 7:1 Rom. 14:4 & 13

Then there are scriptures that say: do judge. Explicit direction: 1 Cor. 5:12
Implicit direction: Matt. 7:6 Matt. 7:15 Titus 3:10
There are more scriptures telling us TO judge than NOT to judge.

Compare: James 4:12 with Lev. 19:15

PROBLEM: on one hand the Bible says don't judge. On the other hand it demands that we do!

Either the Bible contradicts itself, OR we need a fuller, broader, more Biblical view of judging others.

#1. The Greek word for judge has BROAD application with various shades of meaning. The word is also translated: to think, to examine, to investigate, to weigh, to form an opinion, to discus between , to decide, to determine, to try, to conclude, to pronounce judgment, to pass sentence, to discriminate between, to decree, to vindicate, to condemn.

#2. We must examine the word in the contact and usage INTENDED by the passage. We must NOT determine the meaning based on:
A. one scripture alone
B. 21st. century century use of the word
C. current cultural trends/notions
D. personal preferences
God's word is NOT a smorgasbord where you get to pick and choose what you like.

The Biblical view says (mostly) that we are not to judge people, but actions of people.

We can't know the heart, motive, intent, reasons. And we mostly can't determine a person's value, worth, and goodness.

However, we CAN judge action, behavior, a statement, a decision, a lifestyle, a choice, a situation, a philosophy.

Touchstone verse: John 7:24 paraphrased: "get it right!". Every thinking adult has to make a judgment call now and then. For Christians we have Biblical guidelines.

HOW TO JUDGE PROPERLY. 5 necessary elements in making a proper judgment.

#1. A Proper Standard.
A. Word of God
B. Proper interpretation of God's Word
C. The Spirit of Christ to weigh it out.

The Word without the Spirit equals harsh legalism
The Spirit without the Word equals mushy liberalism.

NOTE: Many people will not accept your standard.
#A. Pre-modern age - standard that said "this is truth". Truth equaled revelation.
#B. Modern age - said "is this the truth?" "how can we be sure?" "What is truth?"
This was the 18th. century Enlightenment age of reason and rationalism.
#C. Post-modern age says "there is no truth". rejection of absolute truth.

A. Pre-modern - "these are the rules, by these we judge"
B. Modern - "I'm not sure those are the rules, so how can we judge?"
C. Post-modern - "there are no rules therefore we cannot judge!"

PROBLEM: In the 21st century, instead of Christianity affecting our culture (thinking), we've allowed the culture to affect the church (think for the church). Our salt has lost it's savor in this area!

#2. Proper Information (about a person, situation, etc.)
Problem is: A. we can't get all the information
B. if we could, it would be distorted by sin, and bias prejudice

Therefore: we must 1. go slowly 2. listen A LOT 3. ask others 4. be open

#3. Proper Motive
A. correction - example: Nathan by David
B. instruction - Eph. 4:17-20 this condemns the Gentiles to instruct the Christians.
C. restoration - Gal. 6:1 2 Thess. 3:14-15
D. protection - Rev. 2:20
Condemnation is God's perrogative, not ours!

#4. Proper Timing the truth is always true. But, there is a proper time to present it.
Example: Jesus and the woman caught in adultery.

#5. Proper Heart
Matt. 7:3-5 This is not a vision problem, it is a heart problem.
Matt. 9:10-13 the problem is NOT logic and reasoning
Proper Christian judgment calls for truth tempered with mercy, grace, and humility.
Micah 6:8 Gal. 6:1

As a human adult, you cannot avoid making judgment calls.

As a Christian, you can strive to "get it right". John 7:24

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