My battle buddy, Tammy, continues her amazing series on Division in the Body of Christ!
Division in the Body of Christ – Part 3, Judging
Some years back, just when I thought I was doing pretty good as far as living the way God wants me to live, God started dealing with me about judging others. I was listening to a teaching by Keith Moore at the time, and as he taught, he pointed out that judging is “making a call.” In other words, when we “judge,” we’re making a decision about someone or something. I’d never heard it put that way, and it struck home.
What happens in a court of law? Arguments are presented by both sides, evidence is brought forth, and then a “judgment” is passed down. A decision is made – guilty or not guilty. Without realizing it, we do this to other people and entire ministries. We look at all the outward evidence and weigh it against what we currently believe is “godly” or “right,” and if it doesn’t line up to what we know, we jump to judgment. We might say they’re “of the devil” or that it just “isn’t right.”
Believers generally know that Jesus said “Judge not, and you shall not be judged.” (Luke 6:37) But there seems to be very little obedience in this area because we’ve grown accustomed to making excuses for our behavior. We think we’re defending God, but when we judge, we’re actually harming the cause of Christ. I know all of this because I wasn’t obeying God either. I was pushing people away from God. I had no qualms about proclaiming how much of a liar or jerk someone was, all the while not even realizing I was judging! But, thank God, the Lord opened my spiritual eyes and ears to it. One of the main things He showed me at that time was that He wants us to “judge with righteous judgment” by looking beyond what we see with our eyes, and get to the heart.
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” 1 Samuel 16:7
This verse is right in the middle of the portion of scripture that tells us how David was chosen of the Lord to be anointed as king. If you read verse six, you’ll see that Samuel was ready to anoint David’s brother Eliab. But the Lord told Samuel to ignore what his eyes saw and follow His leading. Samuel had to stop going by what his eyes saw and listen inwardly for the direction of the Lord. If Samuel had judged according to how things looked and made his own “call,” things would have been very different.
And now, in the words of Jesus:
“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” John 7:24
I believe that “righteous judgment” means looking at things the way God wants us to look at them – that we take the time to “look” inwardly and hear what God has to say to us. When we catch ourselves thinking a critical thought, we need to turn our focus from what we’re seeing or hearing in the natural and turn it to what God has to say about it. (And most of the time, God seems to think it’s none of my business! )
Another aspect of this is what Jesus said on Luke 6:41: “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye?” When we put ourselves in judgment over another, we are indeed ignoring our plank to try and pick out their speck. Judging is a really bad thing in God’s eyes. A judgmental attitude produces strife, because having a judgmental attitude involves being prideful and haughty – like we know so much better than they do, and well, gosh darn it – someone has to set them straight! That, my friends, is a PLANK attitude! If we are to speak to someone about anything, it’s to be done in LOVE. Not simply because we think they need to hear it.
That new girl at church who wears mini-skirts almost every Sunday? If we look at that evidence alone, we might be tempted to think she’s a hussy. What we don’t know is that she was raised in an environment where short skirts were the norm. Her heart attitude isn’t to draw others to stare at her and lust after her body, but to come to church and learn about this new Father of hers that she barely knows yet. She doesn’t even realize there’s a problem with her skirt length. It’s quite possible that she’s not even ready to hear about her choice of attire yet. My question – do we want to hurt her and possibly push her away from God over a mini-skirt, or do we want to express the love of God to her and let God show her she needs to re-think her clothing choices when she’s ready to hear it?
That preacher that teaches things you disagree with? Well, if you go by only what you know about God and the Bible right now, you might not agree with them. You might even think they’re, as I said before, “of the devil.” My question – did you ever once have a moment in your life where you realized something you believed about God was wrong? At that moment did you recognize that there was so much you didn’t know yet? Just because we don’t agree with someone’s preaching gives us absolutely no biblical right to judge them. I’ve done this one plenty of times. Some of the ministries I used to be so against are some of the ones I follow closely now. God took me from hating them to a point where I feel like they’re family (and they are). It’s nice to not have to pry my foot out of my mouth so much.
You might be thinking, “Yeah, but what about the verse that says that judgment should begin in the house of God?” (That’s from 1 Peter 4:17, by the way.) Yeah the Bible says that, but this verse does not say we should be judging others. This verse comes in between other verses about trials and being persecuted for being a Christian, and it mentions nothing about us as individuals judging another person.
We don’t want to be the reason anyone stumbles in their faith – and when we cast accusations against other people and ministries, we may cause someone to stumble.
“Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.” Romans 14:13
And Paul continues on in that chapter to say that we’re all going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ and answer to Him. We won’t answer for other people – only ourselves.
Now here’s where the Holy Spirit really got a hold of me on this:
“Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.” Romans 14:4
Oh, boy. I took this one very personally. I had been judging someone in my life at that time, and God made it very plain to me that it needed to stop. “Who are you to judge my servants, Tammy?” In other words, I wasn’t given the role of being their judge, so I needed to get back in my place! God is their judge. Not me. Interestingly, this scripture is found where Paul is going over how we’re to treat other believers who believe differently than us. To me the last part of this verse says, “Hey, you can judge all you want, but understand that I will cause my child to stand despite your judgments. So quit judging and get back on My side so that you won’t be judged. Then I can make you stand too.”
So what are we to do, then? There are definitely things that the Bible says are wrong. Thing is, the Bible says judging is wrong, so we need to steer clear. First, we need to learn to zip our lips concerning other people and stop making “judgment calls.” We don’t know their heart. If we don’t agree with them and start blabbering to everyone we know about how wrong they are – we’re in sin. That causes division, not unity. If someone asks you about preacher so-and-so, and you don’t agree with them, you don’t have to say anything negative at all (we’re going to deal with this more specifically in the next post)! You can simply say, as Kath likes to say, “They’re not for me” and leave it at that. Don’t let people pressure you into speaking negatively about anyone else.
There’s so much to this topic, but what it really all comes down to is learning how to see things from God’s perspective rather than going by what we see in the natural – walking in the Spirit rather than the flesh.
I encourage you to start a hunt in your Bible and let the Holy Spirit speak to you!