Figuring Out The Term ‘To Judge’

I have recently given this some thought – this term that is thrown around in Christian circles – ‘judgement’ and I think it is being used all wrong. I think a careful look at that term might reveal a little more than meets the eye.

The term ‘to judge’ actually means to make a ruling (ex: to sentence or to free) – in relations to the law (torah) or a law. In this country (or any country) we have a court system that makes rulings about aspects of the law – and keeps ‘law and order’ around us (ex: if you steal you might have to pay reperations). This is how I have also come to see the term ‘to judge’ within the bible, but on a more personable level.

Jesus teaches ‘do not judge…’ – and I think that means just that – don’t cast your sentences about the ‘teachings’ you follow upon others – to somewhat ‘punish’ them. But if you have to judge then measure yourself in accordance to the ‘teachings’ – and make that judgment a personal one (within yourself). In essence, judge the ethics/values you will adopt against a backdrop (teachings + experience).

I see many Christian folks using the term judgment wrongly (I think) when referring to judging situations – like we have the right to judge one of God’s creatures – over-ruling the Creator (who is the only real judge of any situation). No, I think we can make those judgements on values within ourselves and to go beyond that is quite atrocious (or can be). Like I have the right to call you ‘this or that’ because I have different values than you – I should just keep my yap shut and follow the ethics I believe and hope that others will emulate it (that’s how I measure it).

Our measurement is in regards to what we follow (teachings) and not in regards to what we say to others about what we follow (since in judging them we make no real in-ways). But Jesus was not too much a stickler on this – if you have to judge (sentence or free someone) – pick the path which is ‘righteous’ (mercy/forgiveness). Let’s start freeing people from the labels we put upon them – we had no right to do so. Let’s treat them how we want ot be treated – with equality and respect. Or as I have thought ‘I shouldn’t have to ask for your respect, if you respect yourself’.

I am not your judge, your jury, or your prosecuter…I am your friend. If you ask me about something I will tell you what I believe but that is the nature of discussion. What is not the nature of discussion is pointing fingers and making blatant calls on someone’s life – that’s making a label for someone to live down (which can really drag some people into various crisis’). Let’s free them.

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7 thoughts on “Figuring Out The Term ‘To Judge’

  1. **Jesus teaches ‘do not judge…’ – and I think that means just that – don’t cast your sentences about the ‘teachings’ you follow upon others – to somewhat ‘punish’ them.** I’ve always found the context of that quote interesting, because it comes across as Jesus saying, “Don’t judge someone, because you’ll be measured by how you judge them.” Which would tie into the idea of what bothers us about others the most is often the thing we most dislike about ourselves. Like if I start judging someone for being a hypocrite, that same measure can be cast back upon me.

  2. “Which would tie into the idea of what bothers us about others the most is often the thing we most dislike about ourselves. Like if I start judging someone for being a hypocrite, that same measure can be cast back upon me.” (heather)

    You are most likely right on this point – since that makes all the sense in the world with the context of the teaching – I agree 100%. I think I am merely approaching the idea about being able to judge someone and what that means – and sometimes it means we ‘bind’ someone with our sentences on them. I guess we have that ability to also ‘loose’ them.

    Still I think your comment is more the point of the Matthew teaching – I agree – I am just merely relaying some food for thought about Christians using the term ‘judgement’.

  3. ** I am just merely relaying some food for thought about Christians using the term ‘judgement’.** And I completely understand. It can be far too easy to fall into that trap of dispensing judgement upon someone who is ‘the other,’ regardless of how you define the category: gender, race, age, salvation and so on.

    And your topic is important, because it can be very easy to become legalistic, and focus on judgement and brimstone. Which would then enter an element of fear/shame, and it’s hard to get a sense of love from that. I would think it would be more effective to just go with loving someone, even if the behavior is wrong. Often, we know deep inside if we’re doing something wrong, and yet if someone loves us anyway, it can enourage us to be ‘worthy’ of such love and stop the wrong behavior.

  4. “Often, we know deep inside if we’re doing something wrong, and yet if someone loves us anyway, it can enourage us to be ‘worthy’ of such love and stop the wrong behavior.” (Heather)

    I agree. I think I see of lot of ‘believing in the right way’ in some of Dan’s stuff he writes and he does throw around judgments about things (ex: someone’s salvation) which help to build ‘labels’ on people – all the while they may not be true.

    But Dan was just the tip of the iceberg – this is so commonplace in the Christian faith most Christians have a tough time believing they are doing just that – judging. I stopped going on AtheismSucks blog basically because of this single attitude – although he is sound on his arguements – it was supremely unsound in practice of this simple thing.

    But your point is something I try to practice – Peter said it best ‘love covers a multitude of sins’. Can we move towards a love that loves someone irregardless of their faults – and wants to treat them in a way that is better than they have been treated prior. I am game.

  5. **But Dan was just the tip of the iceberg – this is so commonplace in the Christian faith most Christians have a tough time believing they are doing just that – judging.** Agreed. And what I don’t think he or others like him understand is that attitude is just going to push people further away from God. There’s no hint of love or grace in it — it’s all judging.

    Granted, I’ll be the first to admit that oftentimes judging is much, much easier than loving someone. I’ve been guilty of that myself. I think it’s because loving someone means you have to try and see beyond a sense of being ‘wronged’ or a sense of self.

  6. I can understand the confusion around this issue, there are various conflicting messages taught from the pulpit on this. Here is the best way I can make sense of the judgement teaching (I apologise that it is a bit long).

    Jesus did not mean you are not to make a judgment call for yourself, He cautioned against addressing the person you have judged. Think about this. We are all judging all the time. There is no way around it. I don’t like the way someone talks gossip all the time so I make a judgment call – that is not righteous! But my instruction not to judge them means I don’t get in there face about it, for I am sure there are many things they don’t like about me. I can still befriend them and try to be an example to them. Having made that judgment call does not prevent me from loving them.

    I think that this changes though when we propose to be a follower of Christ. I think we are not only allowed to judge our brothers and sisters, we are called to do so. This is for our own good and the best (maybe only) way to maintain a clear view of the right path. But to judge someone else you had just make sure you are not guilty in the same area (remove the log from your own eye first). The message about loving and honoring your wife is not going to cary too much weight coming out of the mouth of a person who just got caught having an affair with his secretary.

    So who are we to judge? Fellow Christians only. What is the requirement? That we are sure of our own riteousness (in that area)first.

    The following verse requires judmgent;

    Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins. (John 5 19,20)

    There is a whole lot of examples that can be shown how Jesus exampled for us that judgement is required, how He addressed the Pharisees for one – He was very harsh with them for letting their religion get in the way of their ability to have compassion and love.

    Sometimes we must judge and we may even have to judge harshly, but the intent is certainly not to carry out a sentance. It is not to hurt the person or to exact revenge but to bring them back to the truth and the light.

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