Because I am a member of a number of different Facebook discussion groups, some Christian, one or two that are Messianic or Hebrew Roots, and others somewhere in between, I get to see a lot of different opinions about the same topics. And more often than not, someone will “correct” someone else’s understanding. Sometimes it is done respectfully, and sometimes the other person is just, plain nasty and insulting.
However, no matter how the correction is stated, there will always be someone else who says, “We are not to judge others!”
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Let’s get something straight: God NEVER said we should not judge others. What he does say about judging is not that we shouldn’t, but that when we do it must be righteous and fair. Let’s see an example or two of what God tells us about judging:
Deuteronomy 16:18-20 (CJB):
You are to appoint judges and officers for all your gates [in the cities] ADONAI your God is giving you, tribe by tribe; and they are to judge the people with righteous judgment. You are not to distort justice or show favoritism, and you are not to accept a bribe, for a gift blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of even the upright. Justice, only justice, you must pursue; so that you will live and inherit the land ADONAI your God is giving you.
Deuteronomy 17:8-9 (CJB):
If a case comes before you at your city gate which is too difficult for you to judge, concerning bloodshed, civil suit, personal injury or any other controversial issue; you are to get up, go to the place which Adonai your God will choose, and appear before the cohanim, who are L’vi’im, and the judge in office at the time. Seek their opinion, and they will render a verdict for you.
We are told in 1 Corinthians 6:2 that those who follow Messiah are to be the ones who judge the world, and if any of you have ever had to judge someone, such as writing a work evaluation, then you know (assuming you are fair and just in your evaluation) how hard it is to judge someone. You need to have copious notes that you have made during the evaluation period because memory can’t be trusted when talking about someone’s career, and you need to be able to overcome personal feelings and concern for what others might think of you.
Judging the way God wants us to judge is hard.
I can tell you from personal experience, writing fitness reports on the men under my command when I was an XO in the Marine Corps, and as a manager for many years writing evaluations of the people who worked for me, that when you realize what you are doing is literally shaping their future, well, it’s very humbling and quite a burden to judge others correctly.
As far as what we read posted in discussion groups or may hear in person, there is a fine line between what is a judgment and what is being judgmental. Let’s see if I can give a good example…
If someone says something that is clearly wrong according to the Bible, I will tell them they are wrong, then give my reasons why I have judged them to be wrong using biblical references to support my position. This is a proper form of judging someone else.
However, if I tell them they don’t know what they are talking about and obviously have no understanding of the Bible or God because this is what he says (quoting the same verses I used in the other example), that is being judgmental, and is not a righteous form of judging someone.
To judge correctly we must make our judgment based on the facts and not the person.
This is evident in the way God tells us to judge because he says judge the poor and the rich the same way, and accept no bribe. That bribe doesn’t have to be a monetary bribe, either: I could be bribed by making a judgment that benefits someone else who might one day help me, or I could be bribed by myself, in that I might make a judgment I know to be wrong but would be a popular one with the public, ensuring my next election. A bribe can be anything that unfairly influences a decision.
To render fair and equitable judgments, the kind that is righteously originated and factually justified takes practice. You can’t go through this life never making a judgment about someone and then be expected to suddenly make good ones when we are resurrected in the Acharit HaYamim (End Days), so you need to practice. Now, I am not saying you should go around correcting everyone you see- that won’t really help you, but may end up speeding you towards the first step of your resurrection, which is the one where you die.
No, do not go around judging everyone you see, but when you are in a position where you will need to make a judgment, remember God’s rules for how we are to judge others and make it a fair, factually-based and righteous judgment.
The best “Acid Test” question you can pose to yourself when judging someone is to remember this: you will be judged by God, in the same manner, you judge others.
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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!