Welcome to the first post in a series that I have titled “The Judging Series“.
“A Christian is not supposed to judge.”
“How can one judge if one is not perfect?”
“Didn’t Jesus ask us not to judge?”
I’m sure that you must have heard such statements uttered before. You may have even heard more. The whole talk about judgemental Christians has gained popularity in the last few decades. A lot of people (Christians inclusive) classify Christians into two categories: judgemental Christians and non-judgemental Christians. I’ll try to paint a picture of both categories briefly.
The judgemental Christian is the one who speaks up against what he believes is wrong. He will consciously pick up policies, activities and events that don’t seem to be scriptural and make his mind up. He is not usually hesitant when asked to speak his mind. While the non-judgemental Christian literally “seeks to be at peace with all men”. He will try to avoid controversies. He wants to be right with God and doesn’t want anybody to be his standard. So he prefers to allow people do what they believe is right. It’s their lives after all, he will argue.
Who is right and who is wrong? I have come to see that a lot of times that nobody is. I plan to do a bit of scriptural examination into the question, “Should I judge?” and I do hope we find answers along the way. I find this necessary because of the happenings around me. We are plagued with very controversial topics everyday as The Body. The Christian is forced to always take a stand. Whether it is concerning a presidential candidate or a bill being passed into law. How can he take a stand and be sure that his stand is biblical? Should he just fake ignorance? I believe that he shouldn’t.
Let’s look at the facts. Various passages of scripture seem to support the idea that Christians should judge. Other passages of scripture seem to oppose that idea. Many years ago, I stumbled upon the Calvinism/Arminism debate. Apparently, it had been around for centuries. Each party seemed to think that their interpretation of Scripture was correct and the other’s wrong. Then I stumbled upon the Amillennialism/Millennialism debate. I guess what I’m trying to say is that you’ll always find someone who will oppose strong beliefs that you hold on to. Whether it is regarding the Second Coming or Heaven and Hell or the Eternal Security of the Saints. Have you ever wondered how they also have scriptural backup for their beliefs? I have always found that interesting. Always.
Jesus said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” (Matthew 7:1-2). However, the purple seller whose heart the Lord had opened had not been afraid to say, “If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there.” (Acts 16:15).
The Greek word for judge as seen throughout the New Testament is the word krino. That word was used in Matthew 7. Interestingly, the word krino had a very broad meaning to the Greeks back then. Krino was used a lot in legal settings where there was usually a dispute to be settled.
According to Thayer’s Lexicon, there are at least 7 different and distinct meanings of that word, usually dependent upon the context of the passage. The word krino doesn’t mean to condemn, as many believers have come to interpret it today. In simple terms, it means to determine or to discern. Mind you, the word krino is used in many other passages without the word “judge” as it’s English equivalent. For example, “Paul had determined (krino) to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost. (Acts 20:15). James said, “Wherefore my sentence (krino) is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God.” (Acts 15:19).
We can all see that krino doesn’t mean to condemn. Whenever you see the verb judge in the New Testament, it doesn’t mean to condemn. Context matters. It really does. Now, we have to still consider the passages where there seems to be contradiction. Should a Christian judge?
Let me say that everyone judges. If we are to look at the word carefully, we all judge. Faith has nothing to do with judgement. The Christian, however, is called to live by a higher standard. To judge is not to condemn. Let me say right now that if you’re a Christian, then God wants you to judge. You read right. God reveals throughout scripture that He wants His people to judge. Even Jesus told people to judge. The believers in Acts weren’t scared of asking others to judge them or their actions.
“But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.” (Acts 4:19)
Jesus asked the Pharisees to judge and discern what is right. He wouldn’t have said so if He didn’t believe they could judge rightly.
“Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this. Yea, and why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?” (Luke 12:56-57)
As Christians, we are faced with tough decisions. How will we make solid, scriptural decisions except if we judge all things? God expects us to judge everything, even words of prophecy. Paul told the Corinthian Church to “let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.” (1 Cor. 14:29)
How are we to judge? Jesus said, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” (John 7:24). Don’t sit around accepting whatever comes your way. You must judge because you are a Christian. But you must judge righteously. I recently read of a woman who refused to judge a President’s term in office on the very day of election. Meanwhile, that President was vying for a second term. If believers were to judge righteously, the world would really be a better place.
I’m yet to answer many other questions. We have seen that we should judge. But how should we judge? Are we allowed to judge people? If yes, are we to judge believers alongside unbelievers? Is there a limit to how we can judge? Can judging become condemnation? If yes, when does this occur? How can I judge righteously? I’ll try to answer some of these questions in the second post.
Do have a lovely month. God bless you.
© Eleazar Maduka, 2017