Judgment VS Discernment

Most Christians today have a paralyzing phobia of being judgmental. While the Bible certainly teaches against having a judgmental spirit, our present day fears of being (or sounding) judgmental doesn't come from Biblical Christian teaching. A whole lot of people have been throwing around that accusation lately but being judgmental doesn't mean what a lot of people think it means. If it did, then those who accused others of being judgmental would have to apologize themselves for being judgmental toward people who are judgmental. In most cases these days, I have seen no pompous judgmentalism greater than the arrogant judgment of someone who is accusing another of being judgmental. (Hence the reason for my picture in this post.)

On a side note, I've also noticed the same type of hypocrisy and double-standards in accusations of racism, sexism and intolerance, but I'll save those bottomless cans of worms for another day.

Respecting and reverently fearing the Lord and agreeing with His Word about something isn't being judgmental, it's being wise. The observation of an immovable fact is not being judgmental, it's knowing the truth. Telling the truth is not being judgmental, it's being honest. When you attempt to analyze someone's character via their behavior to determine what their motives might be or what might be in their heart, that's not being judgmental, it's being discerning. Jesus addressed all of this in His Sermon On The Mount in which he spoke against being judgmental while simultaneously speaking in favor of using good discernment. While only God can know the heart completely, Jesus taught us how to discern someone's heart by observing the kind of fruit they bear.

Judging is personal condemnation. It's when one person condemns another person. Jesus told us not to do that because we have only One judge who is God. But when one person condemns a form of behavior as evil, wicked, harmful or unhealthy, that's called discernment. Discernment is a good thing. Without discernment, no one would be able to point out healthy food vs unhealthy food, good driving habits vs bad driving habits, etc... Good discernment is how we decide all things in life.

It's only when our modern culture (Hollywood) embraces certain forms of behavior that wise discernment (against that behavior) is mocked and called "being judgmental". Ironically, they don't call it judgmental when THEY are the ones condemning forms of behavior that THEY don't like.

Having a discerning spirit is a good thing and it is a gift from the Holy Spirit. If we were to apply the world's standards of being "judge-free" then we would have to eliminate all bathroom scales that offend the obese every time they stand upon them. We'd have to eliminate oral thermometers so as not to offend anyone with high fever. If health-food stores had to comply with the obese community as so many are now having to comply with the gay community, then health-food stores would have to start selling junk food to keep from being accused of discrimination.

We're supposed to be healers in a hurting world. How can we begin to heal anyone of anything if we won't acknowledge the sickness? What if doctors were asked to set aside their judgment? They wouldn't heal anybody of anything. They couldn't call the flu, the flu. They couldn't say diarrhea was diarrhea. They couldn't tell smokers to stop smoking to prevent lung cancer. Doctors pride themselves in identifying diseases by name and offering remedies for each disease. Well, the Christian remedy for the genetic disease of sin is to acknowledge it's existence before God and repent of it so that we can enjoy an open and honest relationship with our Lord.

Repentance doesn't mean we promise to never sin again. Repentance simply means that we've had a change of heart and mind about our sin. Repentance means we now agree with God about His views of our sin and because we can't save ourselves from our own nature, we would like HIM to intervene, forgive us and save us from our nature. This will allow the blood of Jesus Christ to wash away our sin AND GUILT and then it will allow God go to work on us. That doesn't mean we're perfect, but it does mean we've humbled ourselves before God and aligned our view of our sin in agreement with His view of our sin.

How did John the Baptist approach people during his witnessing ministry? He didn't preach love, tolerance and understanding; he called out all sinners in the land from the peasant to the King himself. That's why he was arrested because he brought to light the fact that the King was sleeping with his own brother's wife. What about Jonah? Did he go to Nineveh and say, "Listen guys, I understand how it is, but... ya know, God really loves you and would like to heal you, and don't take this the wrong way because I'm not here to judge you or anything but..." No, we don't read any of that. He went to Nineveh with the message, "In 40 days, Nineveh will be overthrown!" Period! Nineveh miraculously repented and God spared them. Jesus was not without kindness and gentleness but if you'll remember his conversation with the woman at the well in John 4, he didn't waste any time pointing out to her the sin she needed saving from.

Christians are constantly on their guard to not sound too religious, too judgmental, too self-righteous, too intolerant, etc... There is so much focus on how Christians should look and sound. But why? Satan's minions don't worry about how they look and sound. They never have to explain or justify who they are to anyone. They never apologize for the intolerance of their views. They never grieve over the displays of their violence, their racism, their sexism, or their bigotry. If they can be proud of who they are, then what are Christians so ashamed of?

I believe Satan is using the fear of sounding judgmental as a tactic to keep Christians from speaking the truth.

Biblically-literate Christians need to get over that fear, now more than ever before.