Seems like a story about get’n stoned on my site here would be quite out of place… I mean… “He’s going to tell us about getting stoned? We… uh…. already know how…”
No… this is about judging… it is actually a writing about why it is critical that we DO actually judge. We are to judge righteously, to separate good from evil, to avoid the very appearance OF evil. How are we to do that, were it not for an ability to judge, to make assessment of a predicament, a circumstance, an event in your life? It is actually a core requirement of our walk with the Lord, in that “A righteous man judgeth righteously”… it just does NOT include condemnation.
Wait… What?? You may be wondering, “How’d he go from Get’n Stoned to it’s OK to judge?”
One of the key stumbling blocks we face in modern society is the blending of simple concepts like judging and condemnation into one ugly “don’t ever do this” rule… one half-truth that has permeated life these days. Judging does NOT require a follow-up with condemnation.
The word Judge really means a couple simple things;
° to form an opinion or estimate
° to settle authoritatively
° to decide in any competition, contest, or matter at issue
The word Condemn is actually a means of sentencing;
° to force into a specific state or activity
° to sentence to punishment
° to give grounds or reason for convicting
More later on these two words and just how judging is not only appropriate, but essential for a balanced life. Now… the Bible does say, “Judge not, that ye be not judged” in Matthew 7:1. I know this can be a main argument for thinking, “There… I am not going to judge anyone”, but don’t take this passage out of context.
Judge not, but judge… wait… judge or not judge? Like that passage in Matthew states, “Judge not, that ye be not judged”, but it is actually the next 4-5 verses that help explain the context… especially verse five, where it states;
“Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.“
See that? FIRST clean up your business before jumping all into someone else’s… but, you ‘are’ allowed to “get the ‘mote'” from your brother’s eye. Now… ‘beam’ is another word for “stick of timber”, or “board”… and ‘mote’ is another word for “twig” or “piece of straw”. But, we ARE encouraged to help those around us… to be critical and ‘see’ that someone has something in their eye, as it were.
Further too, the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 11:31, “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.“… which is say that when you take the time and energy to clean up your life, others will be much more receptive to your observations… to your criticism… to your help. Granted… you may not feel spiritual… righteous… or you may not think you know the Bible (let alone God) enough to even try helping someone else… maybe you don’t even care! Maybe you have just copped out of that whole level of responsibility of helping those around you… you’re just satisfied with being alive and “not judging” and being rather indifferent to it all.
Appearances can be tricky, right? What we ‘see’ isn’t always the facts, the truth, or the whole story. Way too many people are great at putting on airs… presenting a facade… keeping a public face. But, to further show we are encouraged to judge matters, John 7:24 tells us;
Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.John 7:24
You can judge, but you must use a righteous judgement. No… you do NOT need to be righteous, holier-than-thou, or some special certified minister… judging righteously merely means, “being upright, virtuous, even just being impartial”. A righteous judgment is being able to separate your feelings, your opinion, even your preferences (stuff like; “I would NEVER do that, so you should not either“)… remaining engaged in the observation… your determination regarding right/wrong… but not being swayed by your own personal preference or application of the matter in your own life.
As an example, two teams are playing a sporting game. One of the teams is your favorite one… you have been rooting for them since you were very young… you have almost all their marketing products! Something occurs during the game that is controversial… are you quick to ‘take sides’, or can you objectively determine it WAS your team’s fault? Sure, it is just a game.. but, something along those lines also occurs in rubber-meets-the-road life matters, as in; abortion, drugs, even occupations or career choices.
When you judge, you may be judged also… it is a natural reaction from many people…. their defenses flare up and they quickly tend toward the “well, who are YOU to say? You also have…” means of reacting. Sure, it is a classic mechanism to deflect the attention away from them, but in all honesty you must be willing to see if you DO have a ‘beam’ in your eye, right? It does NOT mean they don’t have a ‘moat’ in their eye… they are merely pointing out (as scripture noted), you need to clean up your life, then help them with theirs. But, you ARE allowed to judge… you ARE allowed to observe critically (not ‘be’ critical and snooty)… you ARE allowed to reach out to help.
Condemnation is such an ugly-ish word… I mean… unless someone you know who deserves it, does get it! Actually though, modern society and the whole “live and let live” approach to accepting others for who they are, as they are has caused too many of us to shy away from ‘passing judgment’ on someone. Again though, judgement is only making a determination regarding good or bad, right or wrong, yes or no, even something as simple as Blue or Red (not to get too political!). It is about you ascertaining the choice and coming to a conclusion about it… simple, sweet, and easy.
It is not my place or your place to send someone to Hell. To condemn someone to an abyss in life… to shun them from society for their behavior, their belief, even their very actions. But, you can decide (judge) whether these are acceptable to you… decide whether these are things you could or would do, and even better… decide whether you would teach your family, loved ones and friends these ‘things’.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.2 Timothy 2:15
As the end of that passage confirms, “…rightly dividing the word of truth”, which is to say that we don’t have a free license to judge… to be critical… to be zealously making the world “right”… we must wait on the Lord for His leading about these matters… but, we must be ready to judge… to decide.
One of the most famous events that occurred to Jesus was when this adulterous woman was brought to Him for ‘stoning’. See.. she was caught ‘in the act’ and the religious leaders brought her right to Jesus and insisted she be punished (condemned) for her transgression. These leaders (scribes and Pharisees) hounded Jesus that this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act… and saying to Him; “Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? ” See… they KNEW what must be done (she should be stoned to death), and were testing Jesus to see if He would uphold the law. Instead… Jesus just bent down in their midst and began ‘doodling’ in the sand… this surely enraged these leaders even more, and they kept after Him… insisting He do something about this woman’s sin… her failing… her judgement and condemnation was right in front of Jesus and they had Him cornered, as it were.
So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.John 8:7-11
This was such a great example Jesus used to show them “get the beam out of your eye, then help those around you to get the mote out of their eye”. We all know Jesus is ready to forgive… ready to pardon us from condemnation. And, as He told this woman, “Go and sin no more“.
Therefore, that whole ‘judge that ye be not judged‘ thing usually keeps you from even thinking about voicing an opinion… sharing your thoughts, or even just reaching out to help someone get that ‘mote’ from their eye. The key element is to live your life so that you don’t have a ‘beam’ in your own eye… that you are as blameless as you can be… that you live uprightly… that you ‘walk circumspectly in this life.
Walking faithfully is key to cleansing your life of things that can trip others up. Sure, others may/will STILL find fault with you… fault with your witness… fault with how you are applying God’s grace in your life. But, we are not called to be acceptable to mankind, but to be acceptable to God Himself. Being faithful may sound like you need to be a holy-roller, or some spiritual giant, or even just pure, blameless, and even separated from things of this world. Uh… good luck with that… right??!!
Keeping a faithful walk with the Lord simply means being consistent. See… repetition is key to ‘getting in a groove’ with the Lord. That whole ‘spot visit’ stuff is way too hard to get a good grip on how the Lord wants you to live… how He wants you to love others… and even how He may be leading you. Two ways to think about this;
- Family Visits: Imagine the seasonal visiting with do with family or friends. The occasional group meeting where we all re-introduce ourselves to each other… catch-up on many of the major events or topics of our lives… even just remembering previous relationships or previous experiences or the whole reminiscing stuff we do. Sure… ‘warm fuzzies’ is usually what we come away with… or ‘reawakened anger’… or even just that feeling of belonging we can get from reconnecting with our roots.
- Travel by Boat or Plane: Imagine the pilot of either a boat of a plane making a journey from one point to another. They typically begin that journey checking the path… the route… the course they will apply to get to the other point. Were they to check their ‘bearings’ only on occasion, or when it was convenient, or when they just want to ‘touch base’, it is quite likely they will be WAY off course before too long… sometimes wandering SO far off, tragedy and demise follows!
Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.Psalms 37:5
He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.Luke 16:10
One of the parables Jesus shared with us was about a faithful servant who remained diligent, trustworthy, and consistent. In Matthew 25:21, Jesus reminded us, “…Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.“
Living circumspectly is how you apply the faithfulness in your life… walking circumspectly is an odd word… rarely used these days, and it is a shame, because it literally means, “to be watchful and discreet; cautious; prudent“. No… not a prude… no… not isolated from society… no, not even holier-than-thou… just cautious, respectable, and especially upstanding. This can mean anything from how you interact with other drivers on the roadways… how you handle your finances… how you even handle yourself in public. It is accountability at its highest, really. Always keep in mind that “you may be the only Bible others may ever read” and just what message are you giving them is one way to help keep yourself in check.
Living like you don’t care what others think is a recipe for judgment. Bear in mind, “what others think” can be taken way too literally… way too seriously… way too overbearing on your life. It is a balance… it is a check-point… it is a tangible way of ensure your life reflects how the Lord would live.
- Ephesians 5:15 – See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.
- Proverbs 2:11 – Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee.
- Isaiah 28:26 – For his God doth instruct him to discretion, and doth teach him.
Honor is a tough trait to obtain in our lives… honesty, fairness, or integrity in one’s beliefs and actions seems like a lofty trait to obtain. But, it is obtainable… it is within your reach by the grace of God. Sure… there ‘are’ honorable people in this world who never knew the Lord… having depth of character it not unique to children of God.
Faith, Hope, and Love that is honoring is not obtainable except through the very touch of God in your life. We are sin-bound people… we are walking fallibility… we are prone to failure… it happens to the best of us. The difference is whether we care… whether we regret our struggles… whether we repent from our wayward lives. Judging is something we all must do… something we must all look at critically… something we should never be afraid of. We MUST be careful how we judge… what we judge, and especially why we judge. See… in Romans chapter 14, Paul is reminding us that ‘all things are lawful’ and ‘nothing is unclean’… depending on your faith and walk with the Lord.
But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.Romans 14:10-14
Given that, it now seems like we should never judge? Seems like ‘to each his own’? Seems even contradictory… flip-n-flop…
Not to fear or worry… this, along with the other passages is reminding us that we ‘do’ see the travesties going on around us. But, just because ‘we’ think they are wrong doesn’t mean they really are. We are to judge with a righteous judgment… being careful to keep our bias at check… and being careful that we too are as clean and pure as we can be. See… the Holy Spirit will give you the ‘eyes to see’… the ‘ears to hear’… the peace of His leading. Learn to trust Him (that faithfulness) and listen for His calling and leading to help those around you.