I was out of town this weekend, but Randy was good enough to watch Norm’s Sunday night broadcast and write his thoughts. Randy wrote:
I’m not sure you if you watched Norms program last night, but if you did, you might have noticed by now, that whenever someone calls in and says that they are being judgmental, they ( CofC ) will run to John John 7:24 , yank it from its context and use it to prove they can judge everyone.
We read in John 7:24: “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”
Here Jesus rejects and repudiates this popular notion that one may judge based upon perception. In the context of John 7:24, Jesus was teaching in the temple during the Feast of Tabernacles (v.2). Many were speaking about Jesus at the feast, but quietly (v.11-13). Part of this gossip included the rumor that he had a demon (v.20). Jesus reads their hearts and repudiates this by showing that the same critics formed hypocritical judgments regarding healing on the Sabbath (22, 23). They had quickly come to wrong judgment regarding Jesus based upon gossip that they heard. The “evidence” upon which they had drawn their conclusions regarding him was all perception. So Jesus rebukes them, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”
Unlike Jesus, we cannot read the hearts of individuals who act this way, so the Bible gives us several principles upon which to ensure that our Christian relationships remain in tact. These principles are love, patience, longsuffering, and brotherly kindness. Applying these principles in our life will go a long way toward not judging according to appearance.
I find it quite sad that Norm and others yank scriptures from their context and judge peoples hearts, and even go as far as telling them they are headed to hell. I understand fully that they do so, because they consider being in a denomination sinful, but notice how Paul acted when faced with the same issue…Paul did have to correct the Corinthian church for becoming man-followers, calling themselves “of Appol, of Paul and others, but note that Paul addressed them as Saints, not as someone outside of the body of Christ.
James 4:11, 12 states, “Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?”
This passage is a little more difficult to understand, but I think that we can get the essence of it. First, this type of judging has to do with speaking evil of someone else. The Christian ought never to do this. In fact, we are to give blessing to others, not cursing according to 1 Peter 3:9. So the passage starts with the idea of a Christian who is speaking evil of another Christian. When we personally make judgments against another brother and speak evil of him, then we become a judge instead of one who is practicing the law. We also then judge the law, because we pronounce our own personal judgments upon others particularly when the law does not condemn them. I think that is what this passage is discussing. That is, it is specifically in regard to speaking evil against others. So the judgment that is being made has already been condemned–it is an “evil” judgment, not a righteous one.
The Bible teaches that there is a sense in which the Christian must judge. Let’s look at a few passages.
First, in 1 Corinthians 5:12 Paul says, “Do you not judge them that are within?” Here, Paul is talking about judging Christians who are not living according to the standards that Christ sets for them. In particular, he was talking about the fornicator that was among them. However, Paul does not limit this process to just fornication. He says in verse 11, “But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.” We are, in fact, obligated to judge Christians who are engaged in these sinful situations.
In the very next chapter, we also notice 1 Corinthians 6:1-3. This passage teaches that instead of going to a court of law to settle differences between Christians, we are to judge such matters among ourselves. Here is another form of judging that the Christian is to do.
Finally, notice also Matthew 7:16-20. This passage teaches that we are to judge men according to their fruits. As we mentioned earlier in John 7:24, Jesus said, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” Jesus also said in Matthew 7:6 “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” Who are the “dogs” in this passage? Who are the “swine” in this passage? How do we determine that?
We must make judgments. We, as Christians, have obligations to judge certain situations. Jesus taught us to do this in regard to false teachers, people who are not living morally, and those who have proven themselves unworthy of the gospel. Jesus also taught us not to judge inappropriately. We should not judge hypocritically. We should not judge unrighteously, and we should not judge in a condemnatory fashion.
Note that there is a big difference in the judging from out TV Church of Christ guys and the judging spoken in the bible. There is righteous judgment, which is clearly stated in the above verses, but there are also unrighteous judgment which is condemned…