Three ways to live

Which is your way?

Judging others

Filed under: Uncategorized — Vitali at 9:13 am on Saturday, June 23, 2007

I became quite familiar with this topic as I had to teach it twice over the last two months (for two different bible studies), so I thought I will share my findings in this blog.

The question is, Should we judge other people or not? Some people behave as if they are the only ones who’s got the truth; hence they can tell the rest of the world how to live and pass serious judgment on them if they don’t comply. Others say we should avoid passing judgment, learn to accept others as they are, let God judge. In support of this claim they often quote Matthew 7:1, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” or just point out how non-judgmental Jesus was.

The truth, as it often happens, is right in-between. Here are some important lessons that can be drawn from the Bible:

1) Christians must not judge others for something they are guilty of themselves (hypocritical judgment) – Matthew 7:1-5, Luke 6:37-42
2) Christians must not judge disputable matters that are not openly prohibited in the Bible – Romans 14:1-4, 1 Corinthians 8, Colossians 2:16, or are just a matter of opinion – 1 Corinthians 4:1-5
3) Christians are called to judge their fellow Christians when they sin – Matthew 18:15-17, 1 Corinthians 5:1-5,12
4) Christians are called to leave the judgment of non-Christians to God – 1 Corinthians 5:12-13

These conclusions imply that Christians churches should have a soft shell (be soft to non-Christians) and a hard interior (be tough on their own members). However, exactly the opposite is often the case. The churches are often trying to impose Christian values on people who do not share the same beliefs (abortion, homosexuality, etc.). Yet, when addressing their own congregations, there is often too much emphasis on God’s love and neglect of God’s judgment and His intolerance of sin.

1 Comment

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Comment by zzzkir

June 30, 2007 @ 2:07 pm

I will just cite Dostoevsky’s opinion on this topic (from “Brothers Karamazovs”)

“(h) Can a Man judge his Fellow Creatures? Faith to the End.

Remember particularly that you cannot be a judge of anyone. For no one can judge a criminal until he recognises that he is just such a criminal as the man standing before him, and that he perhaps is more than all men to blame for that crime. When he understands that, he will be able to be a judge. Though that sounds absurd, it is true. If I had been righteous myself, perhaps there would have been no criminal standing before me. If you can take upon yourself the crime of the criminal your heart is judging, take it at once, suffer for him yourself, and let him go without reproach. And even if the law itself makes you his judge, act in the same spirit so far as possible, for he will go away and condemn himself more bitterly than you have done. If, after your kiss, he goes away untouched, mocking at you, do not let that be a stumbling-block to you. It shows his time has not yet come, but it will come in due course. And if it come not, no Matter; if not he, then another in his place will understand and suffer, and judge and condemn himself, and the truth will be fulfilled. Believe that, believe it without doubt; for in that lies all the hope and faith of the saints.
Work without ceasing. If you remember in the night as you go to
sleep, “I have not done what I ought to have done,” rise up at once and do it. If the people around you are spiteful and callous and will not hear you, fall down before them and beg their forgiveness; for in truth you are to blame for their not wanting to hear you. And if you cannot speak to them in their bitterness, serve them in silence
and in humility, never losing hope. If all men abandon you and even drive you away by force, then when you are left alone fall on the
earth and kiss it, water it with your tears and it will bring forth
fruit even though no one has seen or heard you in your solitude.
Believe to the end, even if all men went astray and you were left
the only one faithful; bring your offering even then and praise God in your loneliness. And if two of you are gathered together- then there is a whole world, a world of living love. Embrace each other
tenderly and praise God, for if only in you two His truth has been
fulfilled.
If you sin yourself and grieve even unto death for your sins or
for your sudden sin, then rejoice for others, rejoice for the
righteous man, rejoice that if you have sinned, he is righteous and
has not sinned.
If the evil-doing of men moves you to indignation and overwhelming
distress, even to a desire for vengeance on the evil-doers, shun above all things that feeling. Go at once and seek suffering for yourself, as though you were yourself guilty of that wrong. Accept that suffering and bear it and your heart will find comfort, and you will understand that you too are guilty, for you might have been a light to the evil-doers, even as the one man sinless, and you were not a light to them. If you had been a light, you would have lightened the path for others too, and the evil-doer might perhaps have been saved by your light from his sin. And even though your light was shining,
yet you see men were not saved by it, hold firm and doubt not the
power of the heavenly light. Believe that if they were not saved, they will be saved hereafter. And if they are not saved hereafter, then their sons will be saved, for your light will not die even when you are dead. The righteous man departs, but his light remains. Men are always saved after the death of the deliverer. Men reject their prophets and slay them, but they love their martyrs and honour those
whom they have slain. You are working for the whole, are acting for the future. Seek no reward, for great is your reward on this earth: the spiritual joy which is only vouchsafed to the righteous man. Fear not the great nor the mighty, but be wise and ever serene. Know the measure, know the times, study that. When you are left alone, pray. Love to throw yourself on the earth and kiss it. Kiss the earth and love it with an unceasing, consuming love. Love all men, love everything. Seek that rapture and ecstasy. Water the earth with the tears of your joy and love those tears. Don’t be ashamed of that ecstasy, prize it, for it is a gift of God and a great one; it is not given to many but only to the elect.”

The cite is from F.M.Dostoevsky’s book “Brothers Karamazovs”, book 6, chapter 3.

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