Tag Archive | Judging

A Wrong-Headed Appeal to Matthew 18

D.A. Carson on how do properly deal with a situation where a Person A writes a book promoting heresy and Person B publicly seeks to refute Person A without talking to him first:

770px-Daniel_Huntington_Philosophy_and_Christian_Art“…it is no part of wisdom to “Tut-tut” the narrow-mindedness of Person B and smile condescendingly and dismissively over such judgmentalism. That may play well among those who think the greatest virtue in the world is tolerance, but surely it cannot be the honorable path for a Christian. Genuine heresy is a damnable thing, a horrible thing. It dishonors God and leads people astray. It misrepresents the gospel and entices people to believe untrue things and to act in reprehensible ways. Of course, Person B may be entirely mistaken. Perhaps the charge Person B is making is entirely misguided, even perverse. In that case, one should demonstrate the fact, not hide behind a procedural matter. And where Person B is advancing serious biblical argumentation, it should be evaluated, not dismissed with a procedural sleight-of-hand and a wrong-headed appeal to Matthew 18.”

Read more: http://themelios.thegospelcoalition.org/article/editorial-on-abusing-matthew-18



They Do Not Belong To The Essence Of Humanity

The outcasts (1901) (14566079659)

It is truly not Scripture alone that judges humans harshly. It is human beings who have pronounced the harshest and most severe judgment on themselves. And it is always better to fall into the hands of the Lord than into those of people, for his mercy is great. For when God condemns us, he at the same time offers his forgiving love in Christ, but when people condemn people, they frequently cast them out and make them the object of scorn. When God condemns us, he has this judgment brought to us by people—prophets and apostles and ministers—who do not elevate themselves to a level high above us but include themselves with us in a common confession of guilt. By contrast, philosophers and moralists, in despising people, usually forget that they themselves are human. When God condemns, he speaks of sin and guilt that, though great and heavy, can be removed because they do not belong to the essence of humanity. But moralists frequently speak of egoistic animal tendencies that belong to humans by virtue of their origin and are part of their essence. They put people down but do not lift them up. If by origin we are animals, why then should we live as children of God?

~Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics

Source: http://www.puritanboard.com/showthread.php/87926-A-kinder-condemnation, Comment #1

Condemning versus Evaluating

Dr. J.P. Moreland:

The pilgrim's progress (1890) (14763378764)We need to distinguish two senses of judging: condemning and evaluating. The former is wrong and is in view in Matthew 7. When Jesus says not to judge, he means it in the sense that the Pharisees judged others: their purpose was to condemn the person judged and to elevate themselves above that person. Now this is a form of self-righteous blindness that vv. 2-4 explicitly forbid. Such judgment is an expression of a habitual approach to life of avoiding self-examination and repentance and, instead, propping oneself up by putting others down.

But there is another sense of judging that is central both to moral purity/holiness and to showing tough love to another: evaluating another’s behavior as wrong, pointing that out to the person with a view to their repentance, restoration and flourishing. This form of judging another may bring short-term pain in the form of guilt, embarrassment and a experience of the need to change, but its long-term effect is (or is supposed to be) the flourishing and uplifting of the other.

Sometimes the most loving thing you can do for another is to tell him or her something hard to hear. This form of judgment is absolutely biblical. In fact, in Matthew 7:5, Jesus basically says that after one has appropriately engaged in self-examination and personal repentance, he/she is now in a position accurately and helpfully to evaluate another. This very same form of judgment is commanded in Galatians 6:1-2. It is moral confusion and cowardice to eschew evaluating other’s behavior. It is moral clarity and courage not to condemn others.

Today it is more important than ever for the church to recover and proclaim judgment as evaluation gently yet firmly. 1

Source: 1.Moreland, J. P. “Search On Judging Others: Is There a Right Way?” JPMoreland.com. J.P. Moreland, 19 Dec. 2012. Web. 1 Oct. 2015., qtd at http://apologetics-notes.comereason.org/2015/10/what-thou-shalt-not-judge-really-means.html

Look Not For Evil In Others

Taming of the Shrew

Do not judge!

(J. R. Miller, “Judging Others” 1894)

Do not judge—or you too will be judged.”
Matthew 7:1

It is better to have eyes for beauty—than for blemish. It is better to be able to see the roses—than the thorns. It is better to have learned to look for things to commend in others—than for things to condemn. Of course, other people have faults—and we are not blind to them. But then, we have faults of our own—and this should make us charitable!

We have a divine teaching on the subject. Our Lord Jesus said, “Do not judge—or you too will be judged.” We need to understand just what the words mean. We cannot help judging others. We ought to be able to read character, and to know whether men are good or bad. As we watch men’s acts—we cannot help forming opinions about them. The holier we grow, and the more like Christ—the keener will our moral judgments be. We are not bidden to shut our eyes—and to be blind to people’s faults and sins.

What, then, do our Lord’s words mean? It is uncharitable judgment against which He warns us. We are not to look for the evil things in others. We are not to see others through the warped glasses of prejudice and unkindly feeling. We are not to arrogate to ourselves the function of judging—as if others were answerable to us! We are to avoid a critical or censorious spirit. Nothing is said against speaking of the good in those we see and know; it is uncharitable judging and speaking, which Jesus condemns.

One reason why judging is wrong—is because it is putting one’s self in God’s place. He is the only Judge, with whom every human soul has to do. Judgment is not ours—but God’s. “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?” James 4:12. In condemning and censuring others—we are thrusting ourselves into God’s place, taking His scepter into our hands, and presuming to exercise one of His sole prerogatives!

Another reason for this command—is that we cannot judge others justly and fairly. We have not sufficient knowledge of them. Paul says: “Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts.” 1 Corinthians 4:5. Our judgments cannot be anything but faulty, partial and superficial.

We See Only The Blurred Side

Judging Others

J.R. Miller

CameraTossingUT04One of our Lord’s counsels to his followers is, “Judge not, that you be not judged.”

We cannot judge others fairly. For example, we do not know what may be the causes of the faults we would condemn in others.

Some people’s infirmities are hereditary. Or there may be something in their circumstances or experiences, which is the cause of the peculiarities we are disposed to censure. We do not know what hidden troubles people have — what secret sorrows.

Longfellow somewhere says, “If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we would find in each man’s life, sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility!” If we knew all that God knows of people’s lives, our censure would turn to pity!

We are in danger of misjudging the acts and character of others, also, because we can see only a fragment of their life. There are two sides to most things and people, and we usually see but one.

One Christmas the poet Whittier received from a friend a flower pressed between two panes of glass. One side showed only a blurred mass of leaves and stems, without beauty. The other side revealed all the loveliness of the flower as it lay beneath the glass. Mr. Whittier hung his gift in his window, and turned the beautiful side inward. Those who passed outside saw only “a grey disk of clouded glass,” and wondered that the poet hung such an unsightly thing in his window. But he, sitting within, saw all the exquisite loveliness of the flower. Other things besides pressed flowers have two sides, and Whittier writes:

“Deeper musings come to me,
My half-immortal flower, from thee;
Man judges from a partial view;
None ever yet his brother knew.

The eternal Eye that sees the whole
May better read the darkened soul,
And find to outward sense denied,
The flower upon its inmost side.”

Too often we see only the blurred side of people — and most people have a blurred side. Behind their rough exterior, however, may be a true heart, gentle and kindly.

We know a man out in the world among men, and he seems harsh, stern, ungentle. But some day we see him at home where his sick child suffers, and there he is another man — thoughtful, patient, almost motherly. It would have been most unjust if we had made up our judgment of him from the outside view only.

A young man was severely criticized by his companions for his miserliness. He was receiving a good salary but lived in a pinched way, without even the plain comforts which he could easily have afforded — his fellow-clerks thought. He never spent a penny for luxuries and avoided the expenses which other young men thought necessary. That was one side of the young man’s life, and there were those who judged him by it.

But there was another side. He had an only sister — they were orphans — who was a great sufferer. She was confined to her room and bed, a helpless invalid. This brother provided for her. That was the reason he lived so cheaply, saving and doing without things for himself. He made these personal sacrifices, that his sister in her loneliness and pain, might have comforts. That was the other side of the character, the one side of which had seemed so unattractive to the young man’s friends.

There are countless cases of this kind. We see a person’s actions and form an unfavorable opinion — not knowing the true motive or reason for the actions.

The Pharisees judged Jesus and condemned him bitterly for eating with publicans and sinners, and showing himself the friend of these outcast classes. They saw him only in the light of their own prejudice, and they inferred that he was not a godly man, or he would not have chosen such companions. But we know that he went among these despised and fallen ones, that he might save them. The judgment of his enemies was wrong, because it was passed upon only a fragment of the truth.

Our own imperfections also unfit us for judging fairly. One who has no art taste cannot be a fair critic of works of art. We with our marred and imperfect moral nature, cannot judge righteously of the work and character of another.

The very faults we condemn in our neighbors — oft-times exist in ourselves in even graver form! Jesus teaches this when he says, “Why do you behold the mote that is in your brother’s eye — but do not consider the beam that is in your own eye?” While we are finding little specks of fault in others and judging and condemning them on account of these motes — we ourselves have greater faults! We are not fit to be judges of others, because we have the same faults which we see in them.

Besides, while we are looking after the faults of others — we are in danger of neglecting the care of our own life!

“You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.” Romans 14:10-13

Judged as We Judge

John Linnell - A Finished Study for 'Reaping' - Google Art Project

Judged as We Judge

J. R. Miller, 1899

There are many of our Lord’s teachings which we do not take half seriously enough. For example, there is what Jesus says about judging others: “Do not judge—or you too will be judged.” This is more than a condemnation of uncharitable judging; it is also a revelation to us of the fact that our judgments of others come back into our own bosom. “For in the same way you judge others—you will be judged; and with the measure you use—it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2

The same teaching is found elsewhere in the Scriptures. We get back—what we give out. This is true of our kindly thoughts and feeling towards others, as well as of judgments that are harsh and severe. We gather the harvest of our own sowing. “God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows—he will also reap,” is true in every phase of its application. The merciful—shall obtain mercy, runs the beatitude.

A man who is generous in his opinions of others—receives charitableness of opinion in return. Of course, this does not mean that if we always treat others gently—that others will always treat us gently. Kindest hearted men—are sometimes treated most unkindly. Jesus himself never judged others harshly—and yet he was cruelly slain by those he had come to bless. The statement is general, and in general it is true—that mercifulness in us will make others merciful towards us. What we give—we shall usually receive.

This is true on both the divine and the human side. The unforgiving cannot get God’s forgiveness. It is put in the liturgy of penitence, that we must forgive, before we can even ask for forgiveness. “Forgive us our debts—for we have forgiven.” If we will not show mercy—we cannot even ask to have mercy shown to us. Then, with men, too, sternness finds sternness, and resentment meets with resentment. He who sees no good in others—must not be surprised, and must not complain, if others fail to see any good in him. The man who has only harsh words for his fellows—cannot expect to hear words of love from others concerning himself.

Human lives are like those echoes that we find here and there among the hills—which send back every sound that is heard before them. You speak, and your words are echoed back to your ears. You sing, and your song returns again to you. If one talks loudly and angrily, one hears loud and angry words reverberating in the air. If one speaks gently and sweetly, the echo faithfully reports back not the words only—but the tone as well.

Like echoes are our lives; what they hear—they reflect back to the speaker’s ear and heart. So it is that we may find out, in the way others treat us—just how we really treat them. They echo into our ears in their judgments of us—the very things which our lips have spoken concerning them. Hence our judgments of others are really self-revealings. If we are suspicious and distrustful of men—we are showing the world that in us are causes for suspicion and distrust. If we find selfishness wherever we go—it is evidence that we are selfish ourselves.

This truth has a wide application. A living torch and a dead ember were sent forth into the world to find out what the world was like. The torch returned and reported that there was light everywhere. The ember reported that it was dark everywhere, with not a ray of light shining.

Just so do men find in the world—just what is in themselves? One man says it is a world of sadness. There is nothing in it but sorrow. All its songs are songs of tears. He has not found a bit of blue sky, nor heard a note of gladness in all his rounds. Poor man! It is only the gloom of his own heart that he is reporting. He has in him no capacity for seeing beauty or hearing joy-notes. Another man goes out over precisely the same course, hearing the same sounds, and seeing the same sights, and he reports that he found only music and loveliness everywhere. The world was full of sweet songs. On every spot flowers bloomed; everywhere light was shining.

What made the same world so totally different to the two men? The difference was in the men themselves. In one the lamp of joy was burning, and wherever he went he found light—the light of his own life pouring out on all things. In the other the lamp had gone out, leaving darkness in his soul. Wherever he went, even amid the rarest beauty, he saw nothing lovely, for he was as one blind. Though all about him songs of joy filled the air—he heard no sweet note, for he was as one deaf.

This is a serious teaching, and it has an intensely practical side for everyone of us. It is ourselves that we are discovering all the while—as we go about judging others. If we seem to find all men unjust, unreasonable, proud, vain, deceitful, or false—there is enough in the discovery to startle us. It is the echoes of our own heart—that we are hearing! It is the revelation of our own inner self—that we are seeing reflected. We should seek instantly to find a new heart—and then we shall find ourselves in a new world.

We should also train ourselves to charitable judgments of others. As the faults of our own character are corrected, our eyes will become clearer, and we shall see others in a truer light.

Many of our judgments of others are unjust! And even if the faults our eyes seem to see do exist—we have no right to pronounce sentence. We do not know what reasons there are—for leniency of judgment.

Some day you find a man very disagreeable, irritable, easily vexed, or unsocial, not disposed to be cordial. You are inclined to be impatient with him, perhaps even to regard his unhappy mood so seriously as to allow it to break the friendly relations which heretofore have existed between you and him.

But does not the better self within you say to you that it is not right to make up a final judgment from the mood of any one day? You do not know what may have occurred, to produce in your neighbor the spirit which has given you such annoyance. It may be ill health that has affected him—there are certain physical conditions which make it very hard for the sufferer to keep sweet. Or something may have gone wrong with his business, causing him much anxiety. Anyone ought to be pleasant when all things are prosperous; but it is a much severer test of character to keep pleasant—when there are reverses, when one is losing money, and when one’s affairs are in discouraging condition.

Or there may be other troubles which no neighbor suspects. Not all life’s pains, cause outcry which men hear; not all griefs hang funeral-crape on the door. The bitterest sorrows must ofttimes be borne in silence and in secret—only God knowing of them. We do not know what burdens of personal pain and trial—any life that seems sunny and glad may be bearing. Perhaps this may be the cause of the uncongeniality and the unlovableness which so much offends you in your neighbor.

Of course, we may say that none of these reasons are sufficient to excuse the man for the unpleasant and disagreeable qualities in him which so mar the beauty of his disposition, and give so much pain and discomfort to others. True, he ought to keep loving and gentle and cheerful—no mater what is wrong with him, or has gone wrong with his affairs. Yet we should be charitable, considering ourselves, let we also lose our sweetness some day—when the chill wind is from the north. If only we could lift the veil that covers people’s inner lives, and see all that is going on within, all that makes it hard for them to keep glad hearted and songful—we would be more charitable toward all.

Can We Judge Bad Trees By Their Fruit?

This is very relevant to my life since I was recently castigated for expressing concern about the path a family member has chosen to follow.

C. Matthew McMahon on whether or not we can rightly judge if a heretic, God-hater, etc. will go to hell [color added]:

McIntosh apple tree and fruitThe point to all this is that Christ has told us that we would know good trees and bad trees. We would know them by their fruits. By what they do, say, act, teach, lead, etc., we will know them. Do you know them? Do you want to know them?

… These tests can be general and specific. Are they conforming to the true nature of the Christian? Do they love Christ and His commandments? Do they teach the Gospel? Tests are not hard. What Gospel do they preach? …We do not judge because we want to judge every soul or think we stand in the place of God. Rather, we judge because every tree is known by its fruit. We can, by Christ’s direction, know good trees and bad trees.

…You say, “But I don’t like to judge.” Then you need to repent. Christ desires His church to act in accordance with His word. If you reject Christ’s authority, and reject His word, then you are either on the road of apostasy, or you are not even a Christian… As a matter of fact, when we get to heaven, we will even judge reprobate angels… We will judge angels, but now, we are the midst of judging rightly as well in terms of those in and out of the church. Remember, Christ says that we must make judgments about good trees and bad trees. Not because we have an authority complex and want to be “judgmental”, but because we desire the glory of God to be reflected in our judgments, we desire to see the well being of sanctification grow, and we desire to see the church stand strong amidst ferocious wolves.

Oranges fruit treesNow do not go and take all that had been said here out of context… Do not presume to be the Holy Spirit, or the “sanctification police”. However, be sure, and make no mistake, you should discern whether people are good trees or bad trees. Are they Christians, false teachers, God-haters, or heretics? The well being of the church depends on knowing such things… If you were not discerning and judgmental in this way, how would you ever know if something is to be believed or not? Christians are to make good judgments based on the word of God, not rash judgments based on their own haste. Calvin says, “There is a wide difference between wise caution and perverse squeamishness.” Christians should be wise as serpents in these things and harmless as doves.

Read more: http://www.apuritansmind.com/the-christian-walk/can-you-really-tell-a-tree-by-its-fruit-%E2%80%93-by-dr-c-matthew-mcmahon/