I’m going to talk about some difficult subjects in this post. I hope to do so respectfully and with love. I anticipate that some of you will disagree–perhaps vehemently–with my position. Maybe you think I’ve gone too far. Maybe you think I didn’t go nearly far enough. I want to know your thoughts, but I do hope you’ll share them with love and respect.
And if you came by looking for sweet photos and a cute story about my grandchildren, try this post instead of the one that appears below.
Is it Biblical?
Judging, I mean. My husband and I discussed it the other day. “Of course we judge,” he said. “We can’t not judge. Besides, Jesus judged, and we’re supposed to be like Jesus. We’re not to condemn anyone for their behavior, but clearly it’s Christian to identify sins.”
“I’m not so sure,” I said. We agreed to disagree and opened our dinner menus.
A few days have passed and I’m more sure. Sure I shouldn’t pronounce judgment. My husband is a smart guy and he has a point. Of course we judge. How would we ever select a job, or a mate, or a decent babysitter if we never judged? We assess options and make choices all the time.
You might call it discernment.
But. But. Turn to pronouncing judgment, and the question grows murkier. So. Could you please look over my thoughts, and help me see where I may have gone astray?
I keep thinking that Jesus reserved his harshest words for the hypocrites who tried to present themselves as without sin, as perfect followers of the law.. When it came to the prostitutes and tax collectors, He sat down to eat with them. It’s true that He said to the adulteress, From now on sin no more.
But Jesus was both fully man and fully God. What if His judgments stemmed from His divinity? What if He never meant for us to tell other people, That’s a sin? What if Matthew 7 really means, no pronouncing judgment? What if vengeance is Mine means and not yours?
How might our world look–how might our Gospel look–if instead of pronouncing our judgment on other people’s sin, we chose to focus on extinguishing our own sinfulness?
I would be a more effective witness for my God if I never raised my voice in anger, if I never made snide or snarky remarks, if I never lost my patience.
In other words, I would be a better witness if I truly lived Romans 12, and counted on good to overcome evil. Yes, I know that chapter tells us to abhor evil. And I do believe that sin is evil.
But I also believe that if I’m going to crusade against sin, my efforts should begin with my own sin and not move beyond that target until I’ve succeeded.
This whole conversation started after I read a blog post written in response to a post about the fight some Christians wage against gay marriage. The “anti” posts’s author based his argument on his assertion that marriage is essentially about sex and procreation, not companionship and affection.
I wonder what he makes of Genesis 2:18: “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.'”
But I digress. I think God smiles when we struggle hard against our own sin. I’m less convinced He’s delighted when we go around pointing a finger and calling other people names. I could quote verse after verse after verse commanding us to love, reminding us to be gentle, encouraging us to share the Good News, but I can’t find one that tells me to rant about other people’s sin.
Paul described the very first Christians as living amid a crooked and perverse generation. In closing, I’d like you to look carefully at his advice to them on that point: He didn’t tell them to denounce the sin of others. No.
He encouraged them to struggle against their own sin. I think that’s good enough for me, too.
2 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing; 15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. 18 You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.
I’m sharing over at Jennifer Dukes Lee’s place today. You’ll come by, yes? She’s hosting a book giveaway. . . Just sayin’.