From the Preacher’s Pen…

RacineBuildingWe’ve all come across people that live by the old saying, “My mind is made up! Don’t confuse me with the facts!” And one of the places many seem most willing to show that attitude is when it comes to the subject of being judgmental.

It seems like the verse of Scripture that most people have memorized (especially those of the world, but sadly it’s often true of Christians, too!) is “judge not”! What a great excuse for getting out of all responsibility! Just put the blame firmly on anyone who says anything you don’t like.

Reality is different, of course. “Judge with righteous judgment” is also a direct command from God so the “judge not” must be placed into context lest we erroneously apply it willy-nilly to everything!

A similar misapplication of Scripture occurs when we claim, “Well, you can’t be like that” with the meaning of “You are not Jesus so you can’t do anything that I dislike!” Those who misapply, misstate and otherwise pervert God’s word are NOT just good people exercising their right to their own opinion. By God’s own definition they are false teachers that must be refuted.

A few years back a brother in Christ wrote a great little reminder for us:

When Jesus was Judgmental

Many people find it convenient to oppose those who are judgmental. The word “judgmental” certainly has negative connotations. However, let’s consider what it really means. Being judgmental is declaring a thought, idea, doctrine or teaching to be truth. This position declares many other teachings or ideas to be untruths or definitely wrong or false.

Jesus was not afraid to be judgmental when truth needed to be declared or supported. His example shows us we must also be willing to be judgmental where truth is concerned.

When Jesus talked with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well (John 4:1-42), she raised the question of the proper place to worship. She believed that it was acceptable to worship on Mt. Gerizim, whereas the Jews worshiped in Jerusalem.

Jesus solved the problem by saying, “You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know; for salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22). The Jews were correct to worship in Jerusalem, whereas the Samaritans were incorrectly still worshiping on Mt. Gerizim.

The Sadducees questioned Jesus regarding the resurrection. They believed there is no resurrection after death (Matthew 22:23). Jesus quickly corrected their false belief by referring to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He stated that God is the God of the living, not of the dead. He prefaced His statements by saying, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God” (v. 29).

When the Pharisee named Nicodemus approached Jesus, he declared Jesus to be a teacher from God. He said this with reference to the miraculous signs Jesus was doing (John 3:1-21). Jesus quietly changed the subject. He did not criticize Nicodemus. Jesus stated a truth that called for a specific action. The action demanded by Jesus was that for one to enter the kingdom, he had to be born of the water and the Spirit (v. 5). This was a judgmental statement by Jesus, as He used the word “unless” when stating one must be born again (v. 3).

Jesus was judgmental when He talked with the Pharisees and teachers of the Law. They broached the subject of breaking the tradition of the elders (Mark 7). Jesus referred to Isaiah, declaring that the Pharisees made their worship vain by letting go of the commands of God. As a result, they were holding on to the traditions of men. Was there any way these Pharisees could misunderstand Jesus’ judgment regarding their question?

When God’s Word states a truth, one must accept that truth because it is from God. Declaring it to be God’s truth makes one judgmental, but Jesus was judgmental when the need arose.

We are on a sure foundation when we agree with God’s stated truths, even if others oppose us, calling us “judgmental.”

Windle Kee, Gospel Advocate, June 2008, reprinted by permission

Take note of our brother’s final comment. “We are on a sure foundation when we agree with God’s stated truths, even if others oppose us, calling us ‘judgmental.’”

Many criticize the Lord’s people for being too judgmental. If you examine the Scripture you will learn that usually the problem is exactly the opposite! God’s people are most often far too lenient and willing to accept error rather than stand for the truth.

May God give us the courage to always faithfully stand for the truth. And whatever you do, don’t listen to those who half teach Scripture to further their own traditions, ideas and teachings.

— Lester P. Bagley