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Sept 17, 2017 Judging Part Three

 

 

Scripture reading: I Corinthians 6:2-3; 2:14-16.

 

[I. Introduction] These passages of Scripture makes it plain that we should judge. In the two previous entries upon the subject of judging we looked at other passages as well that direct us to judge.[1] On the other hand, there are verses that seem to direct us not to judge. We considered Matthew 7:1-5 in the first installment. But, there are others like Romans 14:10-13 –

 

Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,

and every tongue shall confess to God.”

12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

 

13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. [2]

 

Is the Bible contradictory? Sometimes it commands us to judge and sometimes not? The answer is an unequivocal “No!” The entire matter is rather simple.  When the Bible directs us not to judge, in each instance the author is referring to a specific kind of judgment. In Matthew 7:1-5 we saw that what is prohibited is not judging but, rather, hypocritical judging.

 

Today we will answer questions like “What should I judge?” and “How should I judge?” By God’s grace we will see that other passages address these matters. There are things that we should not judge.

 

First, though, we must be clear on the necessity of judging. We have seen, so far, that there are four reasons we not only should judge, but must judge:

 

  • We must judge because we are commanded to do so.
  • We must judge because we are competent to do so.
  • We must judge because it is an expression of love and a failure to judge is an expression of hate.
  • We must judge because it is the example of all the godly people in the Bible, including Jesus our Lord and our Example.

 

Let us consider one last reason why we must judge and why attempting to refrain from judging is foolish.

 

[II.] We must judge because it is impossible not to judge!

 

“Everyone judges. Not just Christians, but anyone who engages in rational thought. People assess everything in the world based on their beliefs. Then, they make important decisions based on those assessments. That’s what it means to judge.”[3]

 

A judgment is an assessment; therefore, it is impossible not to judge because all people are continually assessing everything.  If a Christian is pointing out sin (as they should) a common response is “You shouldn’t judge.” When a person says that, what are they doing? They are judging! You cannot escape it. The proper response to “You shouldn’t judge” is “If you believe that it is wrong to judge, then why are you judging me?”

 

This was brought home on Greg Koukl’s radio show. Greg articulated that homosexuality is a sin according to the Bible. A listener named Lee called in to the show.

 

Lee: I’m not a homosexual but I think it is wrong to condemn anybody for anything.

 

Greg: Why are you condemning me then?

 

Lee: What?

 

Greg: I said, why are you condemning me if you think it is wrong to condemn people?

 

Lee: I’m responding to the fact that a lot of Christians condemn people.

 

Greg: I understand. And it sounds like you’re condemning me because I just condemned homosexuality as wrong.

 

Lee: Yes, I am. You are supposed to love everybody.

 

Greg: Wait a minute. You’re not listening to yourself. You just said it’s wrong to condemn people. And now you admit that you’re condemning me. So I’m asking, why are you doing the very same thing that you say is wrong when I do it?

 

Lee: No, I’m not. {a pause as he realizes what he’s done} Okay, let’s put it this way. I’m not condeming, I’m reprimanding you. Is that better?

 

Greg: Then my comments on homosexuals are reprimands as well.[4]

 

Greg then comments that Lee, and most people, do not even realize that they do this. It has to be pointed out to them. Everyone judges. It’s just that the refrain, “Judge not” comes out when people don’t like your judgment or, more accurately, God’s judgment. Because the follower of Christ should simply be repeating God’s judgments on matters and not relying on their own. People like their own judgments over and above God’s judgments. This is the reason that so many will say “Judge not.”

 

Judging is inescapable. The only way not to judge is to remain completely silent. But actually, even if you remain silent you have made an internal judgment. You have judged that whatever topic is being discussed by others is not worth a comment.

 

Therefore, if we try not to judge we are still judging. And if we fail to speak out about matters of sin we have judged God’s words as not commendable to others.

 

The final reason then is that we must judge rightly because it is impossible not to judge. Since we will all be judging, we must know when to communicate our judgments and when to keep silent. And, when we do verbalize our judgments, how should we do this?

 

[III.] When should we judge? As we have just seen, we are judging all the time. So, when I ask, “When should we judge?” I am really asking when it is appropriate to make our judgments known.

 

The answer is that we should judge when it comes to sin and we should, more often than not, refrain from communicating them when dealing with other issues. Indeed, this is what we see the apostles both doing and advocating in their ministries. Another way of saying this is that we should major in the majors and minor in the minors. The major things are sins. The minor things are actions that may lack discernment, wisdom, or politeness.  The minor things also include matters of preference. There are times when we should talk about those things, but not always. Probably less often than doing so.

 

Often, though, we know people who major in the minors and minor in the majors. They gloss over sin and keep quiet about it. But, when it comes to something that upsets their sensibilities they are quite vocal about it.

 

Is there evidence for this in the Bible?

 

Yes! We saw last time that every godly person in the Bible judged. The vast majority of these judgments were regarding sin in others. Sometimes, sin in their own lives. However, we receive different direction regarding other kinds of judgments.

 

We read Romans 14:10-13. What sort of judgments is Paul referring in this passage? The context reveals that they are matters of preference, not sin.

 

Beginning at 14:2 Paul writes,

 

            “One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3             Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.” [5]

 

Some are vegetarians, some eat meat. It is a matter of preference. Neither should judge the other.

 

Verses 5 and 6: “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6             The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. “[6]

 

Some honor the Sabbath, what we call Saturday in the modern era. Some honor the first day of the week – Sunday. Others honor each day equally.  Under the Old Covenant it had to be the Sabbath. Under the New Covenant it is a matter of preference. There is greater freedom.  The only requirement is that we do, indeed, honor days to the Lord. (There may be some Christians who do not honor days unto the Lord, but live like worldlings with respect to the days of the week.) As long as we honor certain days and are “fully convinced,” then we have the freedom to do so.

 

Therefore, we should not pass judgment on these preferential matters (vs. 10).

 

Judging preferences is particularly applicable to the way people dress and the way they comport themselves. We tend to judge others when they do not conform to our standards.

 

Dodie Gadient, a schoolteacher for thirteen years, decided to travel across America and see the sights she had taught about. Traveling alone in a truck with camper in tow, she launched out. One afternoon rounding a curve on I-5 near Sacramento in rush-hour traffic, a water pump blew on her truck. She was tired, exasperated, scared, and alone. In spite of the traffic jam she caused, no one seemed interested in helping.

"Leaning up against the trailer, she prayed, 'Please God, send me an angel . . . preferably one with mechanical experience.' Within four minutes, a huge Harley drove up, ridden by an enormous man sporting long, black hair, a beard and tattooed arms. With an incredible air of confidence, he jumped off and, without even glancing at Dodie, went to work on the truck. Within another few minutes, he flagged down a larger truck, attached a tow chain to the frame of the disabled Chevy, and whisked the whole 56-foot rig off the freeway onto a side street, where he calmly continued to work on the water pump.

The intimidated schoolteacher was too dumbfounded to talk. Especially when she read the paralyzing words on the back of his leather jacket: 'Hell's Angels -- California'. As he finished the task, she finally got up the courage to say, "Thanks so much," and carry on a brief conversation. Noticing her surprise at the whole ordeal, he looked her straight in the eye and mumbled, "Don't judge a book by its cover. You may not know who you're talking to." With that, he smiled, closed the hood of the truck, and straddled his Harley. With a wave, he was gone as fast as he had appeared.

 

Dodie had preferences about the way people should dress and she had preconceived notions. She learned that people are not always as they appear to be. Let us not be so quick to judge people according to appearance, either their physical appearance and, especially, by what we hear other people say.

 

We can even be judgmental about another person because we think they are judgmental! Isn’t that an irony! We become like Lee in his conversation with Greg.

 

When should we judge? The short answer is that we should judge sin and we should refrain from judging preferences. There are some matters in-between sin and preferences. Things like wise actions vs. foolish actions and being polite vs. being rude. On those matters we must tread lightly. Of course wise actions are better than foolish ones and, of course, it is better to be polite than to be rude. However, not everyone appreciates being corrected in these matters. With our children and grandchildren we must correct their foolish actions and rude behavior. It is our responsibility. With other we should have a relationship with them before we offer advice. They ought to look up to us and trust us before we guide them in these matters.

 

This brings us to our final question.

 

[IV.] How should we judge?

 

We must judge with love. If our judging lacks love we should not expect any positive results from it because the person who is at the receiving end will usually be able to tell. In Ephesians 4 we read:

 

 

            so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15             Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, [7]

 

First, note that in order to discern what is human cunning and what are deceitful schemes we must judge them to be so. Again, we see that one is judging all the time. When we are children (i.e., not mature in the faith; new as believers) it is easy to be led astray by false doctrines or to be taken in by a scheme. We need someone to speak the truth to us about these things. Yet, the truth should be spoken in love. As we receive the truth and as we speak the truth we will grow into Christ!

 

We must be motivated by love as we seek to correct others. Not by raw duty and, especially, not because we were annoyed by what someone else has done. Our tone of voice often gives away our motivation.

 

The apostle Peter sums up this matter: “fervently love one another from the heart.” (I Peter 1:22, NASB) Our love should be fervent and it should not merely be a mental exercise, but from the heart.

 

[B.] We must judge gently. It has been said that it is easier to attract with honey than with vinegar. It is true.

 

[1.] We must judge those who are not in the household of faith gently.

 

24             And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25             correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, [8]

 

When we speak with those outside we must patiently endure their evil. Don’t expect non-Christians to meet up to the standards of the Bible. Yet, we must still inform them that they are defying God. How do we do this? With gentleness! We correct them with gentleness.

 

God is the one who grants repentance. Repentance is not something that the natural man can just decide to do. Yet, see that the apostle Paul still links the granting with how we correct. We play an important role.  If we fail to correct with gentleness, God may not grant repentance through your encounter. If the sinner is one of the elect, God will still grant repentance but it won’t be through your words. It will be through someone else’s. Let us be gentle.

 

[2.] We must judge those within the household of faith gently.

 

            Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. [9]

 

Why does Paul admonish us to restore one to godliness in a spirit of gentleness? Because that is the path to restoration. If we try to correct with a rough edge, what some may call a judgmental attitude, then we should not expect a change of heart in the person we are trying to help. Honey attracts better than vinegar!

 

This is how the Lord made King David great! It was through dealing with David in gentle ways.

 

   You have given me the shield of your salvation,

and your right hand supported me,

and your gentleness made me great. [10]

 

This is how the Lord has made you great! And, this is how He will make you even greater. It is through his gentleness. Let us treat one another in the same way that the Lord has treated us – with gentleness.

 

There does come a time when, after repeated warnings, gentleness must be dispensed with and the rod must be used. David experienced this (after his sin with Bathsheba) and Paul was ready to use a rod as well (I Cor 4:21). But, our problem is we want to use the rod (a symbol for a firm and painful method of correction) to begin with.

 

[V. Conclusion and Application] We have seen that we must judge. But we must do so in love and with gentleness. Much damage is done when we fail to judge gently. People are turned away. A word should be said about how we should react to ungentle, even harsh, correction.

 

David Simmons, a former cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys, tells about his childhood home. His father, a military man, was extremely demanding, rarely saying a kind word, always pushing him with harsh criticism to do better. The father had decided that he would never permit his son to feel any satisfaction from his accomplishments, reminding him there were always new goals ahead. When Dave was a little boy, his dad gave him a bicycle, unassembled, with the command that he put it together. After Dave struggled to the point of tears with the difficult instructions and many parts, his father said, "I knew you couldn't do it." Then he assembled it for him. When Dave played football in high school, his father was unrelenting in his criticisms. In the backyard of his home, after every game, his dad would go over every play and point out Dave's errors. "Most boys got butterflies in the stomach before the game; I got them afterwards. Facing my father was more stressful than facing any opposing team." By the time he entered college, Dave hated his father and his harsh discipline. He chose to play football at the University of Georgia because its campus was further from home than any school that offered him a scholarship. After college, he became the second round draft pick of the St. Louis cardinal's professional football club. Joe Namath (who later signed with the New York Jets), was the club's first round pick that year. "Excited, "I telephoned my father to tell him the good news. He said, 'How does it feel to be second?'" Despite the hateful feelings he had for his father, Dave began to build a bridge to his dad. Christ had come into his life during college years, and it was God's love that made him turn to his father.

During visits home he stimulated conversation with him and listened with interest to what his father had to say. He learned for the first time what his grandfather had been like--a tough lumberjack known for his quick temper. Once he destroyed a pickup truck with a sledgehammer because it wouldn't start, and he often beat his son. This new awareness affected Dave dramatically. "Knowing about my father's upbringing not only made me more sympathetic for him, but it helped me see that, under the circumstances, he might have done much worse. By the time he died, I can honestly say we were friends." 

 

If David Simmons could forgive and accept such a harsh man as his father, we can forgive and accept one another for how we have been corrected. We don’t know the background, the childhood, the difficulties that others have endured – the things that have shaped them into who they are now.

 

Let us love one another and accept one another with all our shortcomings. If we never correct, let us repent of that. If we have corrected without gentleness, let us repent of that. If we have been dosed with vinegar instead of honey, let us love in return.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] John 7:24; Zechariah 8:16-17.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 14:10–13). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3] A good definition of judging from Alan Shlemon of the ministry, Stand to Reason, found here: https://www.str.org/articles/the-judgment-on-judging#.Wbk1i-2RAfM

[4] From the book, Tactics by Greg Koukl, p 123.

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 14:2–3). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 14:5–6). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[7] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Eph 4:14–15). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[8] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Ti 2:24–25). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[9] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ga 6:1). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[10] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 18:35). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.