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Sunday, 22 June 2008

To judge, or not to judge - that is the question!!

Sometimes I wonder how much the Lord still weeps over those who are called by His Name!! At a conference, yesterday, my dear wife learned of a fellowship that had informed a young man who had been attending for some time, that he should improve/change his clothing as he was frightening the children!! The alternative, it seems, was that he should no longer attend!

It is true that this young man doesn’t dress in the most conventional way, but he is a kindly lad – who, to my certain knowledge, regularly had children flock around him. The real problem seems to have been that he didn’t achieve the man-made standard of the fellowship.

When I learned of this sad situation, I immediately thought of the anointing of the shepherd-boy, David, as king of Israel (I Samuel 16) and, particularly, those words of YHWH (the LORD): “People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (v.7); and of the One Who was known as “a friend of tax collectors and other sinners.” (Luke 7:34).

Yet, I also had to take look at myself!! It’s so much easier to judge others but, as the old preachers were prone to emphasise, when I point one finger at others, I have three pointing back at me!!

It’s another of those Christian paradoxes. On the one hand I am told “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37); while, on the other hand, “A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad.” (Matt 12:38) – an implicit judgement!

I suppose, when we read all of the “proof texts” in context (and it is always wise to do so!), it boils down to having the gift of discernment that enables me to see when actions are opposed to the clear teaching of the Word of God, but not being judgemental against those who don’t measure up to the standards that I, myself, have set.

Only Father God can make the ultimate judgement: my responsibility is to ensure that I am keeping close to Jesus – and encouraging others to do the same.

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