“Who am I to judge?”
Have you heard that or said that? Correct answers to that question will lead to only one outcome that is good and God pleasing. You. You can judge and you will judge.
Jesus wants you to judge. Fairly. Honestly. Unselfishly. Gently. Those descriptors are extremely important, too. Because unfair, selfish, attacking kind of judging is wrong.
But not all judging is wrong.
Jesus is often quoted as prohibiting all judging. But he does not. In the same Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7) he says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (v. 1) and then “Watch out for false prophets” (v. 15). You can’t watch out unless you’re ready to make an evaluation, to render a decision about someone or something. That’s a judgment, in the general sense of the word. And that’s what the Bible calls us to do.
In the Old Testament God told the prophet Ezekiel, “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me” (Ezekiel 33:7). Ezekiel’s job as a watchman—like a watchman on a city wall on guard for any enemies—was to sound the alarm when the city needed to be warned. That involves judgment. Any Christian today has the same assignment (Luke 17:3).
But who am I to judge? Oh, that’s an excellent question. Because it realizes that the primary cause of improper judging is … me. Not the great offense of the person who sinned. Not their rude response. Me. I approach the godly activity with an ungodly attitude (Matthew 7:3-5). Pride. Apathy. Uncaring coolness.
Jesus spells it out clearly, “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly” (John 7:24).
I can’t do this judging if it’s just me! That’s why God tells Ezekiel to first “hear the word I speak.” When we judge others properly, it’s all about God’s words not our opinions. When we digest and live these words, they become part of us, they shape our perspective, they come out of our mouths, and we are God’s spokesperson.
Then, the second phase of judging properly is “give them warning from me,” according to God. Where is the warning coming from? Not my personal preferences. From God. Based on his truth. Spoken in love like his.
No, we can’t judge if it is only our own opinion. Never! But God’s plan is that our loving admonition of others is never about just us. It’s all about him.
So watch out! Sound the alarm and show true, godly concern for anyone caught in sin or rejecting God.
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, you represent your Father in your judgments, and do so seriously and sincerely. Help me balance both truth and mercy in judging others, and do so for their well-being more than my opinion. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: Take some time today to relax and read Ezekiel 33:1-20. And meditate on them as you ask thoughtful questions in prayer, seeking God’s guiding wisdom to open up these Scriptures.
- In vv. 1-9, God assigns blame in two different scenarios: if a person doesn’t heed a warning that is given, and if a person doesn’t heed a warning that is not given. Read carefully. Consider prayerfully. Who needs your loving warning this week?
- It’s not all gloom and doom. What can you appreciate about God’s intentions in vv. 12-20?