Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Before You Judge Another, Ask Yourself...

"Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 "For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you." (Matthew 7:1-2)

Contrary to how many interpret this passage, judgment isn't forbidden in Scripture, bad judgments are. “First take the log out of your own eye, then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brothers” (Matt 7:5). A few verses later, we are commanded to judge the actions of putative prophets (7:15-20) to determine their spiritual condition. In the law, to refrain from pointing out sin in others is an act of hatred: "Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt” (Lev 19:17). Which is to say true friends will point out the junk in our lives out of concern for us. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27:6). The Psalmist invites such scrutiny in his own life as he realizes that it’s for his own good. “Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me; It is oil upon the head; Do not let my head refuse it, For still my prayer is against their wicked deeds” (Psalm 141:5). Because Paul loved Peter and the church, he rebuked him openly (Gal 2:11). If a church loves their pastors, they’ll rebuke those pastors (1 Tim. 5:20). If a pastor loves his church, he will rebuke the church (2 Tim 4:2).

So judgment (by which Scripture means assessing and confronting moral failure in the lives of people) is not only permissible in Scripture, it’s commanded. Refraining from judgment is bad. However, Jesus warns sternly about hypocritical judgment and indicates the ease with which we can exaggerate the faults of others and minimize our own. Therefore, before you confront another, ask yourself these questions to determine whether your judgment will be right or wrong:

• Am I judging out of genuine concern and passion for God's glory, or because I'm concerned about my own?
• Deep down, do I judge another's sin to feel better about myself?
• Am I really seeking the good of the person I pass judgment on?
• Have I labored in prayer and Bible study to ensure that my judgment is correct?
• Have I scrutinized my failings with the same intensity that I have another’s?
• Do I respond to another's judgment in the way I expect others to respond to mine?
• Am I as quick to point out goodness in others as I have been to point out their faults?
• Am I quick to see and admit fault in my best actions?
• Am I strategic in how I address wrong, seeking God for the best way to effect restoration?
• I’m I broken over my brother’s faults?
Paul’s sums the heart, approach, and execution of moral confrontation in Galatians:

Galatians 6:1-4 “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. 2 Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.