“Judgmental” is the new code word for the Lord’s church. Ask most anyone what they think of when they think of Christians and somewhere near the top of the list you will find “judgmental.”
In some ways we have earned the title. By “we”, I mean the church at large (an important point I will return to in a moment). What else can you call a church that pickets the funeral of a slain soldier to make a statement about the morality of our nation? Is there any other label for Christians who sit in their ivory tower buildings and cast stones through the windows while their world goes to hell?
But let’s be fair. The fact that a few misguided churches have disgraced the mission of Christ should not discredit those that are true to their calling. Just as some churches are quick to judge people, so those who have chosen to reject Jesus are sometimes quick to judge the church. A judgmental attitude isn’t a religious problem. It is a human problem. We are judged every day by marketing strategies that strive to make us feel inferior or inadequate unless we buy the right products. Our human worth is calculated by our salary, the car we drive and our newest technological toy. And when people of faith take a moral stand based on principle, they are often mocked and ridiculed by the very people who cry for a non-judgmental world.
No. A judgmental attitude isn’t just a church problem. It’s a people problem, and anyone who is truly honest about our present circumstances will embrace this reality.
With this said, I propose an axiom: judgment is a good thing when it is based on truth. That’s right. I believe in being judgmental, but only when we have the facts to back up our claims and also only when our judgments are expressed in sincere humility. Like anything, our judgments become a problem when they are influenced by our own sinful agendas and when they lack the heart of compassion that flows from the throne of God.
Some might disagree with me and point to Matthew 7:1 where Jesus told us not to judge, lest we be judged. Certainly, we should not pick a speck of dust out of our brother’s eye when we have a plank in our own. Yet, the scriptures also encourage us to distinguish between good and evil, and to hold people accountable when we judge their behavior to be immoral. One of the most vivid examples of this is found in 1 Corinthians 5 where the church was tolerating an adulterous relationship between a man and his step-mother. The Apostle Paul told the church to hand the man over to Satan (1 Corinthians 5:5). Yikes! I’ll admit Paul’s words make me a bit uncomfortable. However, he clearly states his goal was not to destroy the sinner, but to bring him to a place of true repentance so his course could be corrected.
In the interest of truth, I also think Christians should be willing to let the world correct their behavior. I am not suggesting people who don’t know the scriptures are in the best position to tell us what God wants us to do. However, some of the humor non-believers toss our way is filled with truth, even though it stings. As followers of Jesus we must be willing to examine how our world perceives us, and if we are being ridiculed we should consider the possibility we are guilty as charged.
I don’t want to live in a world where people ruthlessly judge others without any concern for their welfare and future. The church should lead the way in helping people set aside their fear of being judged so they can understand the grace of God.
But I also don’t want to live in a world where no one ever calls out sin. What good is truth is we don’t learn from it, and why should we be so arrogant to assume the popular thought of the moment is better than thousands of years of wisdom?
This is just the way I see it. I hope you won’t judge me.