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Friday, July 14, 2017

Only God ...

You know the sentence: "Only God can judge me." You also know the verse. "Judge not." More to the point, we all know that it's not cool to judge others. And the truth is we do not have the option of sending someone to or relieving them from Hell, so any judgment we might have available to us is limited anyway.

In a world that demands that we not be "judgmental" (I put it in quotes because the current climate seems to be extremely judgmental about being judgmental.), I'm trying to correlate that idea with these words from Christ:
"Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' you must forgive him." (Luke 17:1-4)
Jesus said this with some urgency, it seems. I mean, "It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea" seems pretty stark. Jesus thinks it's important. So when He says to His followers, "If your brother sins, rebuke him," it would seem to me that Jesus is telling His followers to be ... judgmental.

Mind you, it's for a good cause. Jesus appeared to focus here on His followers. Judging outsiders does not appear to be in view here. And there are certain characteristics that are often present that shouldn't be. No "righteous indignation". No self-righteousness. No superiority. When Paul addresses the same topic, he warns, "Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted." (Gal 6:1) This isn't a pleasant or triumphant thing. It's a humble thing. It's an act of love. The aim is to restore, not punish. In fact, Jesus's primary point is to forgive.

There are all sorts of ways we can go about this wrong. We ought not do any of those. But clearly if we are commanded to do this -- to rebuke a brother who sins -- then the other wrong approach would be to tell the Master, "No! I won't."

We have a duty. We have a duty to follow our Leader. We have a duty to be obedient children. In that, we have a duty to "Pay attention to yourselves!" That is, we have a duty to watch out for each other. If sin is there, we have a duty to rebuke and restore. And forgive. Very important -- forgive. But it is a duty, a sacred duty handed to us by our Savior. The current climate of ignoring and even embracing sin flies in the face of this sacred duty. Followers of Christ need to be careful here.


Marshal Art said...

It seems to me that the whine is that the "judgement" that the sinner's behavior is sinful, detrimental or harmful is grating to the sinner, who wishes to continue in the sin unabated and without any feelings of remorse or guilt. That's really where the issue is...not in the one who points out the sin, but that the truth of the sinfulness of the behavior is mentioned at all. The sinner doesn't WANT the sin to be sinful. He wants to go on enjoying himself in perpetuating the sinful behavior. Pointing out its sinfulness cramps the style in a serious way. It forces the sinner to face his sinfulness which he doesn't want to view as such.

Thus, the sinner demonizes the one who points out the sinful behavior of the sinner as the sinful behavior it is.

And really, there is no real judgement involved. We already know a sin is a sin as it is taught to us that it is a sin in Scripture. The judgement has been made. What is left is to determine the status of the sinner. THAT judgement few, if any level against anyone. But still, there's none needed. One is what one does often. If one steals, one is a thief. Kinda goes hand in hand.

It is condemnation that the sinner suggests the "judge" is doing. THAT, without a doubt, is well above MY pay grade, and that on anyone else. God will decide if condemnation is appropriate, and we can only warn the sinner that such is likely if the sinner persists in his sin. Why anyone would disparage one who warns of danger is beyond me.

Stan said...

I do see a difference between "discernment" and "judgment". Jesus clearly taught that we should recognize sin where we find it and respond to it, either to restore the believer or to call the unbeliever to repentance and salvation. The world calls that "judgment"; I would label it both "discernment" and "love".