Monday, December 12, 2011

Judge Not (??)

As young parents on a tight budget with four hungry little boy mouths to feed, dinner buffets were often a welcome diversion to Hamburger Helper at home.  One visit taught us a memorable lesson.  We all sat down at our table, ordered drinks, and prayed.  “Amen” was the signal to charge the buffet lines.  My wife and I helped the younger two boys while the older two (ages about 10 and 8) went off to forage for themselves.  The four of us got back to the table first.  Eventually our second oldest son, Noah (yes, the cookie monster), came straggling back to the table.  On this first trip through the line his plate was heaping with fried shrimp, ham, chicken strips, drumsticks, and a dollop of mashed potatoes with gravy.  His eyes were as big as his plate as he exclaimed, “Can we have thirds?”  (I guess seconds were a given.)  Choking back our laughter, my wife responded, “Let’s see how you do with that plateful and then we’ll judge.”

Noah’s effusive response still rings in my ears, “Don’t judge, just say yes!”

Let’s get a plateful of wisdom from our Sponsor:
“Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” (Matthew 7:1)
…who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.  (Hebrews 5:14)
How many times in your life have you heard someone say, “judge not, lest ye be judged”?   I recently heard someone being interviewed for jury duty say just that.  It makes sense; we shouldn’t all be walking around wagging fingers at one another.  What kind of world would that be?

Well, let’s be careful about this.  What kind of world would it be if no one did judge?  Banks would go broke in days if bankers didn’t judge whether you have enough money to cover your checks.  The electrical grid would explode if no one judged how much juice was going through the lines.  We’d have a nation of idiots if teachers didn’t judge whether tests results were accurate or not.  Speaking of tests, how would you like it if your doctor saw a dark spot on your lung x-ray and said, “This doesn’t look right, but I don’t want to judge whether it is good or not”?  I once heard an otherwise reasonable pastor say, "I'm not judging, I'm just responding to the facts as I understand them."  Uh, yeah, you're judging.

See, we desperately need a world full of assessment and discernment.  When Jesus said, “don’t judge”, He didn’t mean don’t use your noggin.  He actually meant don’t condemn someone to hell – that’s God’s job and His alone.  Jesus and the writers of the New Testament were constantly urging followers to be wise and discerning.  How can we “flee immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18) if we don’t embrace some standard of morality and make assessments based on it.  Since our culture has become judgement-phobic, maybe a better word would be “discern” or “discriminate”.  (The c-r sound in both words is from an old root word meaning ‘to make a separation between’.  Critic, crisis, and crime are all related.)  Followers of Jesus know it is essential that we pay attention to our world and take action when good conflicts with evil.

Are three heaping platefuls evil?  Well, we can debate that, but I also know who’s going to have clean up the vomit off the hardwood floor in the middle of the night.  Yeah, I think I’m going to go ahead and drop the gavel on that one – No Thirds!

This is a hot topic in our society today.  Hop up on our Facebook page and share your views on the tension between judging and "responding to the facts as I understand them."

Clark H Smith

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