Elections are in the air! And globally millions of Christians will be going to the polls after judging one candidate against another. Discriminating between two or more candidates is more than a muscle to be exercised every four years though.
Despite being drilled by secular culture with one of their favourite mantras, "Don't judge", Christians, and indeed everyone, judges and discriminates every single day, and rightly so.
We judge daily
This is probably most obvious in the context of the (hopefully) deep analysis that goes into picking which candidate to vote for. But even some of the most basic decisions we take involve us judging between several options. If you enter a supermarket; you don't buy bread that is mouldy because you assess and judge that it would maybe be bad for your children. You don't take a taxi with a driver that is clearly drunk because that would put you at risk.
Now, being condescending or derisive is a mark of emotional and spiritual immaturity, and I am in no way justifying that kind of behaviour. However, it is clear that human beings must make decisions every day, concerning for e.g. health and safety. This involves analytical thinking, discernment and fair judgement.
Relationships involve judgement
Let's make the storyline a bit more personal. What if the bread was made in a factory that your brother owned? You overhear him nearby, pointing out that he has recently felt the need to add 2% faeces to each loaf; and he is very emotional about it.
What do you do?
If it were a stranger, you may risk ignoring and evading, but if you care about your brother, you will have to do your best to explain why placing faeces pieces in the bread is bad. If he were the drunk taxi driver, who loves drinking passionately, you'd have to speak with him as well. In doing so you are sharing your assessment and your judgement, determining the risks to health and safety as you should!
How much more so, things that have more eternal consequences?
But Jesus said not to judge
A viciously scratched out Bible with the only visible words being "Judge not" is an apt description of the secularist's (one who holds a secular worldview- although that person may claim to be a Christian), reading of Matthew chapter 7.
Matthew chapter 7 says one will be judged to the same extent that they judge. Jesus then chides his listeners, whom he describes as having a plank in their eye while trying to get a speck out of their brother's eye. Clearly, this is a call to introspection, but Jesus isn't saying that you should never take a speck out of the eye of a neighbour. He is saying we shouldn't judge hypocritically, but we should apply the same measure of judgement to ourselves first.
Let us not fall into the deception which says that we can't speak to anyone about wrong things they may be doing. That would be unbiblical and dangerous! Let us engage and examine the text and dodge culturally charged interpretations of scripture. Jesus is calling us to judge ourselves first, then others, by the same standard.
Later down in the passage Jesus actually encourages believers to judge carefully between sheep and wolves:
"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them… Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit" (Matthew chapter 7 verses 15-17).
Here, Jesus is saying we should carefully judge and discern; examining the ways of the 'sheep' and the fruit of the trees; not being caught off guard. This passage and many more would not be in existence of we were being told to not judge.
Jesus says we must judge!
To top it all off, Jesus said plain as day that we should judge! John chapter 7 verse 24 says in the Amplified Version, “Do not judge by appearance, superficially and arrogantly, but judge fairly and righteously.”
In looking at these passages, you may observe that the stress is on how to judge and how not to judge, not whether or not believers should judge!
So next time someone tells you not to judge, remind them that they judged you first, to determine that you shouldn’t judge. Theirs is a self-defeating proposition worthy of introspection and correction; which should lead back to the Word, that says we should not judge hypocritically, but rather rightly. Those who fail to judge as Jesus instructed, fail to make the distinction between good and evil and become functionally atheist and post-modern; neutralised at best and active agents of the kingdom of darkness at worst.
Now judge my words for yourself, examine the passages and see if I have engaged in them fairly.
Dr. Daniel Thomas is a medical doctor and Christian Advocate who loves the Lord deeply. He currently leads a youth organization called the Love March Movement which is committed to empowering the youth to fight for sexual purity and the family in Jamaica.