The Right Stuff of Judging

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There is a scandal to religion.  Not just Christianity but any organized religion in the post-modern world.  The common thought is that a religion is a set of rules. that are dictated by nature against what is liberty and self-discovery.  An important sub-category is being judgmental over someone.

The common thoughts of a judgmental person or oligarchy is a person or group that nitpicks on things that are barely wrong or not wrong at all.  The second theme people have of judgmental people, especially in association with the religious, is that the idea is to shame someone even if they are fragile and/or already ashamed of their failings as it is.  The third observation people have of a person who judges for judging’s sake is that they are hypocrites.

Jesus loved mercy and hated hypocrisy.  He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow on that.  Jesus loves everybody.  Everyone can let out a sigh about that.  But there is more to the approach of judging than most people think about.

“Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:1-5).

Stop judging, that you may not be judged.—The agenda of judging in the flesh and for the flesh is to make ones self feel better as an end in itself.  It is fundamentally a power trip.

But the agenda of God or someone on earth that has godly concern for the fallen ones around is for their true betterment.  As a counselor I tell clients all the time that shame never works.  I tell their supports who have varying knowledge about addiction also that shame does not work.

Jesus had another approach when He caught flack from the religious, condemning hierarchy of that day when a healing not he Sabath happened.

If a man can receive circumcision on a sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because I made a whole person well on a sabbath? Stop judging by appearances, but judge justly” (John 7:23-24).

The Pharisees were into exactness.  Jesus was into wholeness as an experience of holiness.  Also, Jesus shows that judging is okay as long as it is done in a full perspective of righteousness.

For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you—- People could mistakenly take from what is spoken in the Matthew verses that to be cool like Jesus is to “live and let live” or chalk the failings of everyone as stumbles on their “faith journey”.

But it is wise to understand in view of the totality of the Bible that judgment of God is inevitable.  Even a modern spiritual leader like Martin Luther King Jr. would make the point that judgment of all by God and man is going to happen.  “judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” presupposes that even by character we will be judged.

Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? —- Here is where some people see Jesus making a joke.  Maybe there is a joke here.  But more importantly there is a highlight to work on yourself before others.  What is important is that working on yourself is an end in itself.  To “love justice, teach mercy and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8) is the point of personal holiness that is a central theme for the deposit of Christian faith.

However, an eventual experience of a follower of Jesus in a community of fellow Christians is to see the mess and humbly love ones neighbor too much not to confront.  Fear of confrontation is considered one of the Five Dysfunctions of A Team (Francis Lencioni).

remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye —-The point here is that you can correct your loved ones, and be better qualified for it, because you have appropriated for your life of taking up the cross daily to be an examination of conscience or “taking a fearless moral inventory” (12 Steps).

So this does get fleshed out, this godly judging, from the apostolic level as the Church grew.

Brothers, even if a person is caught in some transgression, you who are spiritual should correct that one in a gentle spirit, looking to yourself, so that you also may not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1-2).

From legalism to the law of love?  Yes! The above was written by Paul a former Pharisee no less.  And with such a love for the ones with us that fall and need correction then there is restoration the right way.  It is a matter of suffering with those who suffer and seeing them for their needs and not their faults.  For such mercy and kindness is something we all need.

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