Wednesday, January 20, 2016

"Who Are You to Judge Me?" by Frank Black



        Have you been confronted with or read the above question?  I have.  Usually the question concerns some area that is contrary to Biblical teaching – some sin; and someone who chooses to be involved. The question is usually meant to put us Christians on the defensive [implying that “You aren’t perfect either”]. It’s often meant to be a “stopper”; to be a “gotcha” question.  Well, it should not be.


        Recently in our church study of Romans the topic of “judging” has come up.  My wife, Lou Ann, and I have done a fairly extensive study of the Biblical use of the word “judge”.  This is because of its use in Romans plus the question this article raises – “Who are you to judge me?”  Before I deal with “judging” further, let me share an analogy - the Biblical use of another word quite familiar to you –-> LOVE.  I imagine you are all familiar with the fact that in the original New Testament (written in Greek) there are several different words for love – all that have distinctly different meanings.  This is in contrast to our limited English where you can ‘love’ everything from pizza, to football, to snow, to your children or parents.  My comparison is that it is the same for the word “judge”.  When you realize this, it may help clear up some of the meanings of “judge” that you read in the New Testament in addition to knowing how to better answer people who “hit you” with the question I’ve raised in the title.


         No, I don’t plan to bore you with an exhaustive word study with the specific Greek words and all their meanings.  I’ll simply tell you that my study shows three different Greek words for the verb “to judge”.  [There are other words for a person who is a judge (noun form) and still others for the word “judgment”].  The three verb forms have quite varied meanings.  Some of these meanings are:  to condemn; to sentence; to form an opinion; to conclude; to determine; to think; to examine; to discriminate; to discern; to recognize  ------  If you are following me at all, you can readily see quite a difference in the first two meanings and the others listed.  To give a couple of examples:  “If someone is determined in a court of law to be guilty of murder, they are “condemned” and “sentenced”.  On the other hand; if you are ‘judging’ art work in a contest, you ‘judge’ one to be the winner – you ‘determine’; you ‘form an opinion’; you ‘conclude’; etc.  This has nothing to do with ‘condemning’. 


        Now to get back to the question, “Who are you to judge me?”  We need to make it clear that we are NOT condemning or sentencing the person [we know that is not up to us – it’s in
God’s hands].  What we are doing is recognizing, concluding, discerning that, “YES”: they are a _________ or have committed _______.  You can fill in the blanks.  Again, we need to specifically tell people that “NO”; we are not condemning or sentencing them; but “YES”, we recognize what they are or what they’ve done and we do not agree. Further, we should say that, “My Bible tells me that this is wrong.” 


        I don’t think that I’m “splitting hairs” here with the quite different meanings of “judge”.  Of course many times the people we’re talking to may not accept what we say and probably have rationalized the Bible’s statements or dismissed them all together.  But don’t let our title’s question put you on the defensive.  I hope this rather erudite article gives you a better insight and understanding of “judging.”


Frank Black  [Jan. 2016]

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