Don’t Judge Me, Bro!

As we look at this topic today let me say, if you don’t like what I say in the first part of the post, wade through to the second part. And if you do like what is in the first half, don’t miss the second half; it could be life-changing.

After decades of religion, with its rules, rituals, and dogma, the cry of many hearts today who are encountering the grace of God is; “Don’t judge me, bro!” <4.bp.blogspot.com/-EXZItX_pzco/Ve4eoxbzWwI/AAAAAAAAAHg/ZJeHhLG0gys/s1600/judge.jpg>
And, indeed, a primary component of the ministry of Jesus was to bring people to the Father, not to crush them under further condemnation. John 3:16-17 gives us a big piece of his mission:

*16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.*

In John 12:47: *And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.*

That’s what Jesus said concerning his own time on the earth. As far as what he told us, there are many scriptures. This one for example, in Matthew 7:1-2:
*“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”*

Within the context of what Jesus is saying here what can we conclude about judgment?
I think the answer will resonate with most of us. Judgment is *pointing out* a fault with a view to *condemnation*. This is clearly what Jesus said he did not come to do. Notice John 3:17 again, “God did not send his son into the world to *condemn* the world.” We understand that in this context judgment and condemnation are synonymous because of John 12:47. When Jesus gave us our instructions, he was telling us the same thing. We could insert the synonym here in John 7:1, “Condemn not, that you be not condemned.”

It is not our role as Christians to run around condemning either the world, or other believers. And that includes homosexual activists, activist judges, and even our family members who just don’t seem to see the good sense of the advice that we have offered them. Remember, each person has a responsibility to walk through life in a way that pleases God, not that pleases you and me.

And now, as Paul Harvey used to say, here’s “the rest of the story!” (He was a radio personality in the US for all my non-US, and younger readers).

The Bible is a wonderful book, filled with truth that will guide you in life and will, when quickened in your heart by the Holy Spirit, actually TRANSFORM you into a little Christ. No, really. That is, in fact, a stated goal that we should have. (Read Romans 12:1-2) One thing about the Bible is, that if you are not reading it with the understanding supplied by the Spirit, then you can easily get confused. For example, the concept of Judgment as described above. While I adamantly believe that we are not to bring others into condemnation, the scripture does teach us that we are to judge things. We are to, according to Jesus, “judge with righteous judgment.” (John 7:24b) Not things like cars or clothes, but behaviors and circumstances.

No, really. We are supposed to recognize behavior that is inconsistent with the word of God. (See 1 Corinthians 1:10, 7:25, 40)
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I heard someone call this Discernment. (Don’t confuse this with the gift of Discerning of Spirits; this ain’t that.) What is discernment, you ask? I’m glad you did.

Discernment is recognizing a thing, or a behavior, or a pattern of behavior that is inconsistent with God’s word and, when appropriate, pointing out this fault *with a view to correction or restoration*.

Given that explanation let us first reiterate that we are not to do any of these things for our own benefit or satisfaction. Discernment is intended to assist each other in living a victorious life. It is not intended to allow us to feel superior, or show our extensive knowledge of scripture. If our motive is anything other than the benefit of the other person, we are judging/condemning. Now, don’t misunderstand. We can have pure motives and people can still take what we say the wrong way. It happened to Jesus.

Remember that Jesus did not sin, ever. Thus when Jesus told the religious people they were a generation of vipers, or they were white washed tombstones, he did so in love. He did so with a view toward correction or restoration. The Pharisees and Sadducees took what he said as condemnation. That was their perception because their hearts were hardened, unreceptive. You may have similar experiences. A guilty person who doesn’t want to see their guilt will try to claim you are judging, in the face of genuine discernment.

Back to the principle that discernment is intended to benefit another, and should never be used otherwise. We must always be aware that a deceptive person can try to disguise judgment as discernment. They may tell you harsh and critical things that they have “discerned” from a very narrow window of observation because they really don’t know you that well. It is wisdom on our part to *not* permit people who don’t know us well to freely speak correction into our lives. The correction they bring may not be genuine correction, but only condemnation.
This brings us to one more important element in discernment. Discernment should only be used for those we have a relationship with (as individuals) unless there is a clear direction from the Holy Spirit. You should not be that person who claims to be bringing “discernment” to a brother or sister from a narrow window of observation. That person you only see at work, during break time. Or for an hour at a meeting. Or that you see during lunch everyday. Someone who plays on your men’s league team, or your women’s team. Don’t offer insight to these people unless you are invited to do so. And certainly never offer discernment to someone based on just what you’ve heard, unless they ask.

There are exceptions to this guideline, actually three. The first is, if you have a clear witness of the Holy Spirit and you are sharing from the correct motives. The second is, the ministry gifts may minister correction even to those with whom they have no relationship if the person has chosen to come under their gift. This is usually in the form of the ministry they offer, and is rarely done one-to-one apart from the working of spiritual gifts. The third is, it is appropriate for us to discern behavior in our society and take responsible actions as good citizens, including pointing out behaviors that are adversely affecting our nation. Not by attacking people, but by standing against incorrect behaviors as identified by God’s word.

Finally, the most important point. Being teachable is a primary characteristic of walking out God’s will and victory in life. Being teachable is recognizing when the word, the Spirit, or a brother or sister, are delivering discernment to you and being able to open your heart to receive correction. Proverbs 3:11 “My son, do not despise the *chastening* of the Lord, Nor detest His correction;” Hebrews 12:5-11 builds on this verse and concludes with verse 11,
“Now no *chastening* seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been *trained* by it.” Which brings us back to what should be a goal of our Christian life; Romans 12:2, to be trained, or transformed by the word!

God loves you, and so do I.

To learn more about our God’s love and compassion for us check out these related posts (click the title for the link):
Shattered Dreams; Broken Promises <heartofgodforyou.blogspot.com/2014/08/shattered-dreams-broken-promises.html>

Get Fixed! <heartofgodforyou.blogspot.com/2014/12/get-fixed.html>
Do You Want To Be Well? <heartofgodforyou.blogspot.com/2011/09/do-you-want-to-be-well.html>

You can also get a copy of my book, a book on the liberty we have in Christ (not nutrition as the title may suggest) on Amazon (click on the title): Eat Healthy…Most of the Time!
Remember, God loves you just as you are; but he loves you far too much to leave you that way!