Is it really necessary to make such harsh judgmental statements?
The Bible includes many passages that make judgments against certain behaviors. In Romans 1, bad behavior is described as those who “have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice.
“They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless” (Romans 1:29-31, NIV).
Wow! That sounds extremely judgmental. Can’t we ‘tone it down’ a bit? After all, who are we to judge someone else? In fact, didn’t Jesus say, “Judge not so that you will not be judged”?
Jesus did say those words in his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:1). He went on to illustrate this teaching by picturing one who judges others as someone trying to help others get sawdust out of their eyes, all the while having a beam of wood in his own!
Jesus concludes by saying that the one with the beam of wood in his eye should first take it out. Then he can see clearly to help his friend with the sawdust. So, Jesus is not prohibiting all judgments, just hypocritical judgments.
If we can’t act right, then we have no business telling others how to act. What would Jesus have us do? Jesus wants us to start acting right so we can help others do the same. But telling others how to act is considered rude by many people. Nobody wants to be accused of ‘judgmentalism,’ not in our culture!
Ironically, our world makes heroes out of some of the most judgmental and harsh people alive. A well-known teenaged girl travels the world wagging her finger in the faces of nations, governments, and international businesses, condemning them with stern words. Greta is considered a champion. Why? Because her issue, man-made climate change, is popular and many people agree with her.
So, even severe judgments can be popular if the issue is popular. The real question is not: Should we judge human behavior? The answer to that is obvious. We must judge human behavior and we do.
The real question is this: By what standard will we judge behavior? As Christians, we agree with God that some behavior is bad, and we agree with his standard of what is right and what is wrong. We know that people will disagree with us, but we choose God’s approval over the world’s acceptance.
A mom with a four-year-old daughter posted her story on social media. Her sister accused her of being judgmental. Why? Because mom would not allow her sister to babysit the young daughter in her apartment.
Why not let the sister babysit at her house? Because the sister lived in a community where everyone believed in and practiced polyamory (multiple sexual partners or group sex). The sister may be insulted, but mom made a wise judgment.
We must refuse to engage in bad behavior; and we must refuse to approve of bad behavior. The choice is not simply a difference of opinion. Bad behavior is not only a matter of what is risky or unhealthy. Bad behavior separates us from God and his love.
We make wise judgments because we value our relationship with God. We make wise judgments because we want everyone to be right with God and to enjoy his blessings to the fullest.
It is certainly true that some Christians can be unloving and unnecessarily harsh. But the Christian message is firmly rooted in the words and actions of Jesus. We can trust Jesus’ discernment about good and evil. We can trust his judgments.
May God’s Spirit enable us to speak the truth in love,
Brother Richard Foster
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