Do you know the difference between judging and judging?
One of the mantras of people who feel attacked is:
“Who are you to judge me?”
They love using this wildcard to defend themselves, a convenient way of getting the focus off themselves and onto someone else. And they even quote Jesus’ words to justify themselves, saying, “Judge not, and you shall not be judged.” But many of them don’t realize what they’re doing. They’re only victims of their own ignorance. So let’s understand the difference between judging and judging. Yes, there are two different types.
- Jesus indeed said in Luke 6.37, “Judge not, and you shall not be judged.”
- He also said in John 7.24: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”
- And in 1 Thessalonians 5.21,22, the apostle Paul said, “Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.”
Hang on a minute! Is the Bible being contradictory? First, Jesus says that we shouldn’t judge. Then, He says that we can judge with righteous judgment, not according to appearance. And Paul says that we should judge all things. This is where many people start getting confused.
WHEN JESUS SAID, “DO NOT JUDGE,” He was talking about the “critical spirit,” an obsessive attitude of criticism and fault-finding, which seeks to tear others down. Sometimes it’s disguised as “constructive criticism,” but its intention is never to build up, but rather to tear down. This kind of judgment is wrong because it doesn’t benefit the society, nor the one who is judged, nor the so-called judge. It’s just the work of evil inside the hearts of those who judge.
The only criticism that is ever constructive is that which is expressed in love to “build up,” not to tear down. It’s always expressed face-to-face, never behind a person’s back.
Jesus also made it clear that, if we are ever to judge someone, we have to do it not according to appearance, but “with righteous judgment.” Let’s be honest, human beings are experts in judging according to appearance. We judge a person’s character by the color of their skin, their intentions by what other people say about them, and their capacity by their education level. It’s this kind of judgment that Jesus disapproved of. Righteous judgment has nothing to do with your opinion, or with my opinion, but with the Law of God. So, make sure you know what righteous judgment is to be able to judge well.
Finally, we have Paul’s statement that we have to test “all things.” Note that he says “things,” while Jesus refers to people. So, there is no contradiction.
As for “things,” it’s our duty to judge all of them. This means that we are to consider, evaluate, examine, discern and determine what they really are, and then, decide what to do about them.
- Is this food good for me, or is it going to raise my cholesterol?
- Is this friendship helping me or not?
- Is this movie worth watching or not?
Talking about movies (and taking advantage of the controversial subject of the previous post), understand one thing: I don’t need to read it, watch it, eat it or try it to be able to judge it. Take a look at this comment left on my Facebook page. It’s a clear example of faulty reasoning.
“I love your TV show and I always watch it. But I think you were quick to criticize a book like 50 shades of grey, which has sold millions of copies worldwide. The film has sold thousands of tickets before its debut. As an opinion leader, you shouldn’t defame something you don’t even know or haven’t read. Your book is somehow sexist… I SAY THIS BECAUSE I’VE READ IT… I know by experience… THINK ABOUT IT!!!”
My response to her was:
(Name), drugs are sold worldwide too—cigarettes, pornography etc. This doesn’t mean they are good. And I don’t need to smoke, use drugs, or watch porn to know they are not good… Think about it.
Had she judged me with “righteous judgment,” she would have at least listened to my podcasts embedded in the text, where I declare that I’ve chosen not to read the book, and that my argument for doing so is that I’ve chosen not to ingest such content. Some people might say, “How can you say that a book is good or bad without reading it?” Let me give you an example.
Pancreatic cancer kills 99% of patients in five years. I’ve never had pancreatic cancer, and I hope you haven’t either. My question is: Would you like to have it to know what it feels like? Or are you going to accuse me of not knowing anything about pancreatic cancer because I’ve never had it? Are you going to condemn me for warning people about this terrible illness just because they have “free will” and the right to have cancer if they want?
I don’t need to try something first-hand to form an intelligent opinion about it. No one does. That’s why God has given us intelligence and His righteous judgment: to help us judge all things.
Yes, we must judge all things and decide what is and what is not good for us. However, no one is forced to judge righteously; after all, we are free individuals. But bear one thing in mind:
We are all free to choose, but we are all slaves to the consequences.
You can judge your choices, not their consequences. Therefore, be a good judge.
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