Are Christians Allowed to ‘Judge’ Others? (Pt. 3)

[This post is a part of the "Are Christians to Judge" Series. Be sure to read Part 1Part 2, and Part 3]

The Apostle Paul tells us who to judge

So, what are Christians suppose to do with non-Christians? What is the proper perspective towards unbelievers and the sinful things that they do?

1 Cor. 5:12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?

In the context of 1 Cor. 5, Paul is dealing with a situation where judging needed to occur and it was not.  There was a man in the church who was sleeping with his step-mother and everyone was proud of it!  Obviously they needed to judge him and lead him back to the way of godliness.  The apostle Paul says that Christians shouldn’t be all that upset about what unbelievers do, because we know they are going to sin and don’t care what God has to say.  The point is that Christians in true community are to make sure, not in a domineering or proud way, that we are living in accordance with the good confession of God our Savior, that we really are following Jesus Christ.

We can encourage a non-Christian as to what God would have for them and how God has wants His creations to live.  But with unbelievers we must start with the Gospel. Trying to get them to live morally doesn’t accomplish anything in the scheme of eternity. They will still go to hell and be under God’s wrath. We should seek a better life for them, but first we seek a better eternity.

Conclusion

While there is much confusion on what it means to ‘judge’, realize that our opportunity to assess, decide and determine for other followers for Christ, is exactly what the Christian community is meant for.  We have not been saved to ourselves, but have been given one another so we can stir one another to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24). Simply, we need to be judged in a loving way by others, as they call them blind-spots for a reason. We may not know the intention of someone’s heart, but it is possible to find it out by loving conversation (Proverbs 20:5, Luke 6:45). We don’t judge as to whether or not someone is undeniably going to hell, as Jesus is the final judge. Jesus is the judge of someone’s salvation – not us. But our judging one another is intended for our good and leads us towards the holiness that Jesus would have for us.

 

Are Christians Allowed to ‘Judge’ Others? (Pt. 2)

[This post is a part of the "Are Christians to Judge" Series. Be sure to read Part 1Part 2, and Part 3]

Jesus actually tells us how to judge

After the famous words of, “Do not judge…”, Jesus actually tells us what to do, so we will “not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (John 7:24). Part of our apprehension and aversion to judging is our understanding of the word. The greek word for ‘judge’ could also mean, “decide, determine.” So maybe if we thought of judging as deciding and helping determine the proper course of action, we may be more biblical in our practice. “Judging” doesn’t equal “condemning.”

Look at the context of “Judge not.”

Matthew 7:1“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Jesus says in verse 5 that we are to examine (judge) ourselves first, removing a potential log in our head, THEN we may deal with someone else’s speck.  But notice as well, that Jesus says by doing this, we can see clearly on how to handle the situation.

So, we are actually are to judge. Jesus is saying that we need to examine (judge) ourselves so that we can determine and decide rightly. And maybe after we examine ourselves, the “issue” disappears, because our own sin has been dealt with, which was actually clouding our judgment in the first place.

The ESV Study Bible, in the notes for Matthew 7:3-5, puts in very well, “Jesus does not forbid all evaluation or even judgment of others, for ultimately the one who feels grieved and humbled over his own sin can help remove the “speck” from others. What Jesus does rule out is pride that views oneself as better than others.”

 

Are Christians Allowed to ‘Judge’ Others? (Pt. 1)

[This post is a part of the "Are Christians to Judge" Series. Be sure to read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3]

One of the most debated, misunderstood, and quoted verses in the entire Bible is the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” This verse is commonly tied to the words, “You can’t judge me! Remember,‘Judge not.'” Or  we hear something like, “I can’t judge because, ‘Judge not….”.

Is this really what Jesus is teaching?

Follow this hypothetical situation/story.  Michael is an active member in his community group.  He loves attending church and serving with the set-up crew.  He gives faithfully to his church and loves his wife dearly, however he has some issues with drinking.  Not that he drinks, but he gets drunk – often.  He even showed up at his community group one night, a bit tipsy.  Now, what are the Christians in the room suppose to do? Talk to Michael?  Ignore it?  Just pray for him? Of course not!  They are to lovingly confront Michael, show him where he is sinning and help restore him to pursuing a holy life.  Replace the elements of this story with whatever you like, the central truth remains – on some level Christian are suppose to “judge.”

All Christians will do this for the rebuke and restoration of others

The responsibility of all Christians is to help one another, when one is struggling with sin. Galatians 6:1 says, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.” Christians are to help one another, and this will require a humble assessment of situations to see how aide could be provided.

All Christians will do this for encouragement and exhortation of others

Christians will also find opportunities to encourage one another by applying the Scripture to each other’s lives. The only way that this will be helpful and possible is by looking intently into each other’s lives and see how the Scriptures speak into that.  This certainly requires an amount of judgment.

1 Thess. 5:14 says, “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”

Christians are to bring tailored words to the idle, fainthearted and the weak.  But how do we know who the idle, fainthearted and weak are? It is by exercising loving judgment and assessment that we see who is in need.  It cannot be done in attitude of superiority, but one of humility and love; which is evidenced by Paul adding, ‘be patient with them all.’

All Christians will do this to provide wisdom to others and to invite the judgment of others on their lives

Christians in community will invite others into their life to provide feedback and wisdom into a given situation.  Whether it be a potential new job, parenting questions, or marriage issues – Biblical Christianity involves bringing outside wisdom and counsel.  This requires that another Christian lovingly judge or asses the situation and provide God’s wisdom. If we don’t desire outside counsel, we are dwelling in pride, seeking our own desires (Proverbs 18:1), and need to be rebuked and encouraged that “in the abundance of counselors there is safety (Proverbs 11:14).

The judgment has already been made

The forgotten truth is that we are not making new judgments on what is sin and what is not; we are saying what the word of God has already said.  The word of God has already made the judgments for us.  We are simply bringing to light what the word of God has already said.  Additionally, for some circumstances we may need to realize that the issue at hand could be a matter of preference and opinion, and not a sin. And we are not pass judgement on those matters.  But we are called to speak freely, lovingly,  and authoritatively on matters that God has spoke on.

Next time, we’ll look specifically at what Jesus said on “judge not.”

Be Sure of Your Calling

 

Do you want to be a Pastor?  How about a Church Planter?  Let me offer one thing to you.  This may be the most important advice I could offer you, after loving and pursuing our Triune God with all that you are, your family, and heralding the Gospel.

 

Be sure of your calling. Because just about everyone else will not.

 

The people you thought who would support you to the end, will question you from the beginning.  You’ll be told you are too young or too old.  You’ll hear that you don’t have any experience.  You’ll be told that it won’t work.  You’ll be told that God will not bless what you’re doing.

 

Really?  Yes. Really.

 

If you want to be a Pastor, you are subjecting yourself to some of the most difficult, painful, gut-wrenching, thankless work on the planet. You will be dancing in a minefield.

 

Ministry is Wonderful

It will be dancing in this sense: In ministry you will experience some of the most amazing moments of your life. You will see souls come to Christ.  You will see the preaching of the word awaken people to the glory of Christ.  You will see Parents lead their children in the ways of God.  You will be encouraged for your passion for Christ and his glory being known and enjoyed by all people. People will thank you for your service to the church. People will shower you with prayers. People will love you. All of these things are a mercy from God.  And they make ministry a joy. Pastoral ministry is a humbling honor from God.  Being a Pastor brings great joy.

 

However, planting and pastoring aren’t always going to be that gorgeous. It is tough.  The Bible calls you a soldier, farmer and an olympic athlete (2 Tim. 2).  All of which are grueling, painful and time consuming efforts. Pastoral Ministry is no different.

 

Ministry is Painful

You will try to lead and the church will stiffen its neck.  Your sin will be exposed from the stage.  Your sin will be pointed out to you (praise God). You will meet with people for counsel and they will tell you they’ve never liked you.  You will have crazy late nights and super early mornings. You will run the meeting marathon…often. You will, by the mere fact that you are alive, send people out the back doors of your church. You will labor for hours, preach your heart out, and have people critique your presentation slides. You will be slandered. You will be hated.  You will be gossiped about — incessantly.  You will meet someone for the first time in the grocery store and they will tell you why they didn’t like you. You’ll sit alone in your car and weep. You will see “friends” abandon you. You won’t be extended grace by those who demand it. You will struggle to read your Bible. You will struggle in your communion with God. You will want to avoid people. You will start to become impatient with your kids because of your impatience with people at the church. You will go through some of the most difficult spiritual warfare of your life.  You will bear some of the most heinous burdens of those in the church. You will not be respected. You will be mocked.  You will wonder, “Is it always going to be like this?”

 

How do I know this?

 

I’ve lived it. All of it. I’m living it.The wonderful and the painful.

 

When I was interviewing to become the Lead Pastor at Redeemer, one of my best friends even told me, “You know you aren’t going to get this — right?”  What would you do with that?

 

Late last night as I was up talking with my wonderful wife, I asked, “Why would anyone subject themselves to these things?”

 

So why have I?  I am sure of my calling.  God has called me to be a pastor.  He has called me to spread the fame of His name. Not only to be a pastor – in general, but specifically at this church. He began this work and He will complete it.  I am clay and He can and will do whatever He wants.  And whatever He wants to do is going to be for my good.

 

Trust God

Do you still want to plant?  Still want to be a pastor? My advice: be sure of your calling.

 

If you aren’t sure of your calling — stop.  But when the critics, complainers, haters, sleepless nights, low tithes and questions abound…be sure of your calling. When those times come, consider it all joy (James 1:2-4).  And know that in your weakness, His grace is sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9-10.  Read 2 Cor. 11-12).  Cling to these verses.  He is faithful.  He will get you through.

 

“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful, honor and recognition in case of success.”  ~ Ernest Shakelton, from the advertisement he used when recruiting men for his expedition to Antarctica in 1914.

 

The Fourth Mark of a Church

What makes a church a church? It is considerably more than a mass of people that meet once a week. Without a doubt a church doesn’t equal a building. Does a college ministry equal a church? The Reformers provide some wisdom.

The Reformers Provide 3 Marks

The Reformers asked themselves the exact same question: What defines a church? They came up with three marks that are incredibly helpful still today.

1. The Right Preaching of the Word of God.
2. The Right Practice of the Sacraments (Baptism & Communion/Lord’s Supper).
3. The Right Practice of Church Discipline.

Any professed church that doesn’t embody, practice and strive after these marks – is not a church. The reformers were right on the money.

The right preaching of the Gospel has to make up a church. There is “preaching” going on in a lot of churches, but it must be the faithful proclamation of the whole counsel and Gospel of God. Jesus must be the hero of the sermons, which shows him to be the hero of the church.

The church must practice the sacraments. The continued practice of baptism shows that new converts are being won to Christ and they are identifying with Him and the church. Communion is the continual practice of remembering what Jesus has done for us.

A church that doesn’t practice and have a right understanding of church discipline is no church at all. Church discipline brings about a great sense and desire for personal and corporate holiness. Every person is striving to live according to the way of Christ and the church wants to live like Jesus. And the church and her leaders are charged to call rebellious and unrepentant members back to Jesus or challenge and discipline them and their claim to follow Jesus. And some may need to be removed from the church.

These marks are essential to every church. But in our day are these enough? I think don’t so.

We Need One More Mark

With the explosion of the emergent church, the house church and the internet church – we need one more mark. It is one that the reformers took for granted. It wasn’t necessary to mention or even consider. It wasn’t on their radar. But today, we need this fourth mark.

4. The Right Practice of Church Leadership & Government

A church must be have the right offices as seen in the Bible: Elders/Pastors & Deacons. A church that is lead by deacons is not a biblical church. It must be lead by the Elders. A church that is lead by only one elder is not a biblical church – it must be lead by a plurality of elders. A church that is lead by the church is not a pure church.

And it is not enough to have the offices filled – they need to filled by qualified men. A church that has women as elders is not a pure church. A church that has pastors who are cheating on their wives, stealing money, lying on their taxes etc… is not a pure church. The offices must be filled by those who fulfill the Biblical qualification as lined out in Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3.

Can a house church really be a church? Of course, as long as the church is led by elders.

The reformers didn’t need to highlight this mark – it was the universal practice. But now in our day, we need to give as much attention to this practice as the others.

We need churches that preach the Gospel in word and sacrament. We need churches that pursue holiness. We need churches that have right leaders.

We need all four marks.

Where Does Your Soul Lead for Joy?

Where does your road lie, Christian? Where does your soul lead you for joy? Do you go to the Word and read what Christ as done for you on earth, and what He is doing for you in heaven? Is the throne of grace the place to which you resort for good news from that far country where all your treasure lies and your best friends live? Are you listening for the next promise Christ’s peace will whisper to your heart? If so, you are not carrying your name for nothing – you are a real Christian.

- William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour, Volume II – p.261

People Don’t Always Love a “Straight-Shooter”

People love pastors that shoot straight. And why wouldn’t they? I can think of one reason, but we will get to that in a moment.

A Pastor that shoots straight with the people is a wonderful thing – as long as the goal of his instruction is love (1 Tim. 1:5).

Benefits of a “Straight Shooter”

What’s not to love about a pastor who you know is:

  • Being honest
  • Brining the truth
  • Rightfully explaining the Scriptures
  • Clear on his convictions
  • Never going to sugar coat, water down or avoid the tough truths of the Bible
  • Plain on mission & vision
  • Identifying Idols in hearts
  • Transparent about his heart
  • Constantly challenging the church to walk with Jesus
  • Faithful
  • Loving his family more than the church
  • Able to deconstruct opinions that are seen as the only way.

Again, who wouldn’t love a pastor that tells people “like it is”?

When a “Straight-Shooter” Gets Shot

Here is when people don’t like their “straight shooting” Pastor.

When the pastor tells them the way it is. Whst loved about the pastor is now unfavorable. They begin to shoot at him. Why? They don’t like when their:

  • Idols are crushed
  • Opinions not seen as truth
  • Sin is Rebuked
  • Views on Scripture are challenged
  • Request for the pastor is denied because he’s with his family

Who are they? Simply, extraordinarily proud people. Humble people respond to the truth, respect and submit to leadership.

People don’t always love a straight shooter.

But, Pastor, be a straight shooter.

And Christian, be humble. Don’t support your pastor only when it benefits you.

God Makes “Celebrity Pastors”

Celebrity Pastors get a bad rap. And some of them should. Many of them are false teachers and some, while not a false teacher, they are diluted in all that they say. And because of these bad “Celebrity Pastors”, the faithful & fruitful “Celebrity Pastors” get lumped in with them.

I’m Grateful for Famous Pastors

Maybe you have said unfavorable things about “Celebrity Pastors” or “the famous ones.” Statements like, “There shouldn’t be pastors of that status and caliber. There should only be local preachers. We are elevating men. etc…”

I am grateful for the “Celebrity Pastors.” God has used many of them in my life to refine, shape, mold, challenge, shake, rebuke and strengthen who I am – in just about all areas of my life. Which is exactly what faithful preaching of the Word should do!

God Makes Famous Pastors

Not only am I grateful for “Celebrity Pastors”, I am fully convinced from the Bible that God raises them up. And they are raised up according to their preaching of the Gospel.

There are some men, in tandem with their preaching and God’s gifting/blessing, they are made famous.

In 2 Corinthians 8, Paul speaks of a preacher who is famous because of his preaching of the Gospel.

16 But thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same earnest care I have for you. 17 For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest he is going to you of his own accord. 18 With him we are sending the brother who is famous among all the churches for his preaching of the gospel. 19 And not only that, but he has been appointed by the churches to travel with us as we carry out this act of grace that is being ministered by us, for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our good will.

Paul didn’t back away from recognizing a mighty work of God in a man. More pointedly, the Holy Spirit didn’t shy away from calling a man, a servant of God, “famous” because of what God is doing in his preaching of the Gospel.

The Famous Factor

The important factor is this: Why are they famous? Because they are funny? Because they are charismatic? Because they are smart? Because of the show they put on? Because of promises they make? Or…are they famous because of their faithful preaching of Jesus Christ? Some are famous for ALL the wrong reasons. But some are famous for all the right reasons.

Maybe it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyways. We must not idolize these men. We must not follow them more than we follow Jesus. We should not obsess over these servants, who are riddled with problems, sins and areas of growth – like the rest of us. But there can and should be a healthy appreciation for leaders.

Let’s be slow to speak about all “Celebrity Pastors.” Yes, some are vain, some are wrong, some are famous for all the wrong reasons. But remember, there are some that God has raised up. And you don’t want to speak ill of a servant of God. Last time, the earth opened up swallowed a bunch of people. Just sayin’.