I don’t get to decide

“But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself.  For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord.  Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.”  ~  1 Corinthians 4:3-5

We Christians seem to spend a lot of time judging.  We seem to make it our favorite sport in the church.  We judge those around us, we judge ourselves.  We somehow think it’s our job to size a person up and see if they make the grade.  And the problem is that the “grade” is usually an arbitrary one set up by our own standards.

We’ve done this so much that most of the world around us doesn’t even want to have any part in what they perceive as “Christianity.”  Ask your average person what a “Christian” is, and “judgmental” or “condescending” will be somewhere near the top of the list.

The problem is that a judgmental attitude couldn’t be further from the Jesus we claim to serve.  He frequently stood up the most for those who measured up the least.  He constantly locked horns with the religious leaders of the day on His failure to condemn those considered to be “sinners.”  In fact, in every instance where Jesus is harsh, it is always with the religious leaders who had set themselves up as judge over others, never with the sinners.

Paul takes this thought one step further and says “I don’t even judge myself.  Even if I can’t think of any wickedness in myself, I know that I’m not saved because of that.  My righteous acts don’t have anything to do with my salvation.  God is the judge, and He has declared me ‘not guilty’ because of Christ and Christ alone.”

So here’s my question:  If we are saved by Christ, totally independent of any righteous act on our own part, why shouldn’t we offer that same grace to others?  If Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you,” shouldn’t we say the same thing?  If Jesus was tough on the religious folk and easy on sinners, why are we often the exact opposite?

Paul makes it clear, I am not the judge.  I’m not the prosecutor, I’m not even on the jury.  I don’t get a say in anyone else’s judgment.  I don’t even get a say in my own judgment.  That really only leaves me with one alternative: grace.

And maybe that’s the way God planned it in the first place.

  1. #1 by Mark Murdock on March 29, 2011 - 12:47 PM

    How do you handle 1 Cor. 5:1-5? Are you talking just about Christians being judgmental toward non-Christians?

    • #2 by Dave Kirby on March 29, 2011 - 3:18 PM

      Yeah, there’s a BIG difference between the loving correction of a local, intimate church body and the judgmental attitude that gets spewed out today. I’m talking about the condescending attitude of “us against them.” It’s not even remotely close to the attitude Jesus demonstrated to sinners, one of acceptance and mercy and grace.

      And, yes, I’m talking about the attitude that our works have anything at all to do with whether we get to heaven or not.

  2. #3 by Erica on March 30, 2011 - 12:54 PM

    Situations aren’t always what they appear to be. I know that I have been guilty of judging when I shouldn’t, only to learn that things really weren’t what they appeared to me. God sees the full picture while I do not. While we encourage and rebuke each other in the Lord, being judgmental (especially towards non-believers) is not our place. Jesus gave an example of loving the “sinners” and associating with outcasts – and often the Pharisees and religious leaders were outraged with Him because of this.

  3. #4 by Mark Murdock on March 31, 2011 - 12:20 PM

    What concerns me in all of our emphasis that we not be “judgmental” is that it seems we have become too concerned about the politically correct idea that we must never offend anyone, that we must never suggest that anyone is not OK, that anyone might be lost and might need to be saved, that someone might actually be dead in sin and might need, by the grace of God, to be made alive in Christ (Ephesians 2). When we suggest to the world that all of us are sinners and need the grace and forgiveness of God, the world has a tendency to scream, “You’re judging us you hypocrite! Stop judging us!” How can we communicate the need for grace without pointing to the fact that all people do, in fact, fall short of God’s holy standard, and do, in fact, need to repent and receive God’s grace and forgiveness in Christ? Too many people seem to think, like the Pharisees, that they are righteous and don’t need God’s forgiveness. Right, it shouldn’t be an “us against them” kind of thing, but rather “us for them.” It should be, “I was where you are, and the Lord found me and redeemed me, and I would like to help you find the same grace I have found.” Luke 24:47 says that repentance for the forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in the name of Jesus to all the nations. It’s hard to proclaim repentance without seeming “judgmental” to some.

    • #5 by Dave Kirby on March 31, 2011 - 2:56 PM

      I get where you are coming from, and I speak pretty forcefully in my book about the “easy gospel” that is preached in the church today. It’s an easy gospel that allows people to continue in their sins while pacifying them into thinking everything is okay with God.

      I believe this is all part of the problem with our modern church structure…or actually the structure of the church that took over within the first couple of hundred years of church history and continues to this day. I’m talking about the church as an “institution” as opposed to a living body of believers walking out their faith together. When we get ministries and buildings and programs instead of intimate gatherings of believers who are committed to each other in love, we end up here. The RIGHT way is a loving body of Christ who reaches out in love to the world around them, not in a judgmental way, but out of true compassion. These are people who are willing to get down in the pit with sinners, love them in spite of their sin, and minister the grace of Christ to them (the way Jesus did). The WRONG way is to stand in a pulpit, or on a television, or in a political movement, and proclaim to the world what is wrong with them, and insinuate if they’d be a little more like us then they’d be okay. The world sees our condescending glances, our revulsion, our avoidance of them, and they perceive that as being judgmental. And it is.

      Jesus didn’t say they would know us “by coming down on the right side of the issues,” He said they’d know us by our love. I think we mistakenly think that loving a “sinner” means we are somehow tacitly approving of their sin. That’s what Jesus got from the Pharisees. But He went right on loving the sinners, and so should we.

      Good discussion, because I think this is at the heart of where we are with church today, and why so many people are abandoning it.

  4. #6 by Erica on April 1, 2011 - 7:20 AM

    I think there is a difference between standing for truth and having a judgmental attitude toward others. Jesus often rebuked the Pharisees for such an attitude. A judgmental attitude is rooted in pride (“I’m better than _________ because…} I think one can stand for truth without being judgmental.

  5. #7 by Erica on August 16, 2011 - 1:51 PM

    All too often, I think it is easy to be like the Pharisees (who thought they could see but were really blind). I have caught myself in this state of sin way too often. Thank you for speaking truth.

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