by Lamar Garman
"Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment" (John 7:24). Jesus gave this command to a group of people who were angry that a man had been healed on the Sabbath Day. They judged harshly the act of healing and condemned Jesus wrongly, saying that He had a devil. The Jews were so impassioned in their condemnation that they even sought to kill Jesus because of this incident.
Because of Jesus' words condemning this harsh judgment, shall we then shun all judging to avoid the same calamitous error? Is this what Jesus meant when He said, "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned" (Luke 6:37)? Does this command preclude trying to help another see the error of his way lest we be guilty of judging him?
By comparing Scripture with Scripture, we know that God wants His people to exercise careful discernment and to use good judgment in all areas of life. "And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ" (Philippians 1:9, 10). An increasing number of issues, deeds, and events call for discernment in the end times in which we live.
How do Christians judge without condemning?
By being convinced that the Bible is the standard of judgment. As students of the Word, we know what the Bible says about immodesty, promiscuity, rebellion, divorce and remarriage, and the many other sins that are prevalent in the world today.
By applying the principle "By their fruits ye shall know them" (Matthew 7:20). Good fruit comes from a good tree; bad fruit comes from a bad tree; and the difference between the two is clearly seen. To help the erring understand their true condition in God's sight without condemning them, we need a heart of love and compassion. We must love the sinner and hate the sin.
By seeking to edify others in all interpersonal relationships. A critical, suspicious attitude toward the motives of others is very detrimental. Our goal must be to edify, encourage, and be a pattern for others to follow. "Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way" (Romans 14:13).
By remembering that God alone is the righteous judge. In our limited human understanding, we may not always be completely accurate in our perceptions and conclusions of issues. May we rejoice in serving the God that is omniscient.
"For he cometh to judge the earth; with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity" (Psalm 98:9). -Lamar Garman
(Taken from “The Eastern Mennonite Testimony of the Eastern Pennsylvania Mennonite Church and Related areas “October 2006”)
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