February 17, 2014

Only God Can Judge Me?

Only God Can Judge Me!

I saw this bumper sticker recently. It wasn't the first time. (Huge thanks to Tupac for vomiting this idea out awhile back.) I was reminded of it again this morning when I saw someone post something about "Why do we have to judge each other? Can't we just love one another?" While I think I understand the sentiment that births this thought, I also think it's very bad theology and a misunderstanding of the scriptures. 

Jesus (very famously) said, "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye. You hypocrite..." (Matthew 7:1-6)

I believe these are some of the most misunderstood, misrepresented, misinterpreted, and taken out of context verses in the whole of the Bible. These are verses that people who don't even believe the Bible love to quote, as if to say, "If there actually is a God, then he says you can't judge me." In reality, this isn't what Jesus says at all.

While it is completely safe to say that God has not ordained all of us to walk around pounding gavels in each others faces - passing judgment left and right on the microscopic behaviors and decisions of others - He is also not eradicating "judging" from our responsibilities. Jesus is attacking the prideful heart. He is condemning the one who attacks someone else's sin without recognizing his own. This is why Jesus tosses in the "do you not notice the log in your own eye" remark. This resonates in Paul's admonition in Galatians 6: "Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted."

QUESTION: How can you "restore him" without addressing the fact that he's sinned? Can you point to a solution without first pointing to the problem? Paul says, "Lead your brother (or sister) to restoration, but do it gently. And do it prayerfully and carefully, so that you don't fall into the same trap yourself." What Paul is describing is what many call "judgment". There is no place for this principle in moral relativism. And those who are hellbent on the idea of "tolerance" have no place for this spiritual and biblical directive in their worldview. Call it what you like, but it's bad theology.

[In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul actually tells the church to remove a man who is not repenting of sexaul sin from the fellowship. ("Let him who has done this be removed from among you.") This goes over like a lead balloon with moral relativism and "Can't we all just get along?" theology. What's missed here is Paul's ultimate goal is for the man to come to repentance and be restored to fellowship. But until then, he has brought judgment on himself.]

Go back to Jesus. When I quoted Matthew 7 above I intentionally stopped right where most people stop when we read, quote, or mishandle his words. But if you keep reading you discover what he really said: "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." Do you see it? (No pun intended.) Did you catch what Jesus said? We are responsible for taking the speck out of each other's eyes. We are responsible for restoring brothers and sisters OUT of sin and back INTO fellowship with God. We can't do this if our lives are consumed with sin. And we certainly can't do this if we walk around pridefully not even acknowledging our own sin. But that's part of why we are commanded to be in constant examination of our sin, live in a constant readiness of confession and repentance, open up our lives to be examined and scrutinized by our brothers and sisters in Christ, and most important, "Be holy". Am I my brother's keeper? Actually, yes.

There are some very specific areas where this issue is raging in our culture. I want to address them in additional posts and conversations. But where this all begins is in the understanding that when someone bears the name of Jesus Christ - when someone claims to belong to Jesus and to be a child of God - their life must begin to be a reflection of His Word. It means that we come to God not for who we want Him to be, but for who He really is. And our heart longs more and more all the time to surrender in obedience to him. Occassionally, this may very well mean someone gently, humbly, yet boldly approaching me to lovingly restore me. Am I open to this?

Is your life an open book?
Are you open to the scrutiny of the Spirit of God in your life?

Dig Deeper:
Psalm 139
Galatians 6:1-10
1 Corinthians 5-6
1 John 2:28-3:10

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