Do not Judge (Part I)

Following the two most well known passages of scripture, Psalm 23 and John 3:16, may be the most oft quoted scripture by believer and unbelievers alike: Luke 6:37.  This well-worn verse reads "Judge not, and you will not be judged..."  This verse could be considered the Golden Rule of the new gospel of Tolerance, which has long taken over the minds of many as the pinnacle of virtue.  However, when looking at tolerance and what seems to be its diabolical opposite, judgement, from a scriptural point of view, we find that not only is tolerance not even in the list of seven cardinal virtues (defined in the 6th century), it may lie closer to one of the seven deadly sins: sloth.  In the Summa Theologiae, Medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas said sloth is "sluggishness of the mind which neglects to begin good... [it] is evil in its effect, if it so oppresses man as to draw him away entirely from good deeds."  If we are lazy or slothful at judgement, we will be tolerant of evil in ourselves and others.  We can always count on the world to "... call evil good and good evil ...".  The new theologians of tolerance, when attempting to escape God's moral demands, bring out their own copy of scripture which has Luke 6:37 highlighted and all the rest stripped away.  It is important for people of the Word to rightly understand whether our Lord agrees with them, and that we believe and follow where his word leads us.  

Since in our own English language, the word judge can have a variety of meanings, it is important to get at the meaning of the word Jesus used in Luke as recorded in Greek in the 1st century.  What is he telling us in Luke to refrain from?  From the sounds of it, the consequences of judging are something we would wish to avoid.  Yet Jesus just a few chapters later in Luke asks "And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?"  In the very next book, Jesus plainly tells his audience "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgement." (Jn. 7:24).  Seemingly to muddy things further, Paul says that "the spiritual person judges all things" (1 Co. 2:15) and "Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?" Are he and Jesus at odds?  Agreeing with Jesus' statement in Luke 6, we find his brother James saying "There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and destroy.  But who are you to judge your neighbor?" (Ja. 4:12).  So now what are we to do: judge or tolerate? 

Before hopefully completely answering this question of judging in next week's edition, let us first look more closely at its modern opposite: tolerating.  While the words 'tolerance' and 'tolerant' do not appear in English Bible translations, 'tolerate' does.  And whether in the Old Testament or the New, the idea of tolerating anything is always used in the sense of permitting wrongdoing or lawlessness to continue without challenge.  While we are told to "bear with one another" (Ep. 4:2, Col. 3:13), by patiently loving and forgiving our brothers in Christ, God's word never tells us to be tolerant in the biblical usage of the word.  The Bible entreats us to 'tolerate' the person, but never to 'tolerate' the sin.  Many of us have had to wisely walk a fine line, that is not often clear or easy, between "loving the sinner and not the sin".  However, we cannot allow ourselves to be boxed into believing the modern take on this principle "Love me. Love my sin."  This sort of tolerance is never commended in the Bible.  If you practice the tolerance that is more like the sloth that Thomas Aquinas described, you will not "stand firm in the faith", keeping watch over your heart, so that you are not "weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the cares of this life."  Remember that "your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."  By remaining vigilant, you "may not lose what [you] have worked for", and will "save both yourself and your hearers."  Worldly tolerance has deadly effects.

If we conclude that Christians cannot judge and we cannot be 'tolerant', where does that leave us?  Waiting on the answer that will appear next week.

BlogWayne Eadselders, judge