Tuesday, May 1, 2012

On What Grounds Should We Judge?

Don’t judge,” the world says, but the fact is, we don’t always have that luxury. At church, we do background checks on our leaders. Why? Because we’re trying to protect the children from wolves in sheep’s clothing. That requires judgment on our part. Parents judge their kid’s friends. People who are dating, are judging the other person to see if they are the kind of person they think they can spend a lifetime with. Let’s admit it, judging is a part of life.

But here’s the real question: What should be our basis for judging? And don’t say “the Bible.” Of course it should be the Bible, but what should be our basis for disqualifying someone? When dealing with the issue of marriage, we usually pull out 2 Corinthians 6:14. A believer shouldn’t be unequally yoked with unbelievers. But that applies to more things than marriage. It applies to churches. A church has no business having unbelievers within her membership. It applies to business. Don’t go into a partnership with an unbeliever. And I would include literary agents and writers in that. A Christian writer has no business working with a literary agent who isn’t a Christian. It’s a bad idea.

So a person’s salvation is one means of judging fitness for service, but salvation can be faked. Look at Judas. He had the other eleven fooled. I saw an interesting quote recently. Someone said, “I believe we should judge people by their actions and not their lifestyle.” I don’t think that word means what they think it means. The thing is, if a person’s lifestyle is that of a drug addict, their actions are also those of a drug addict. But in context, of the conversation, what the person was saying was, “we should judge a person on what we’ve seen a person do, rather than on what other people with their lifestyle choices have done.”

That’s an interesting thought and we might find ourselves swayed to that argument. After all, a person who stays out late may still be able to get to work on time, so don’t fire a guy for staying out late; fire him for showing up late. That’s fine in some cases, but consider the qualifications of a pastor and of a deacon that Paul wrote to Timothy and Titus. A man must rule his house well, because, if he can’t, how can he rule the house of God? Of course there are other qualifications, but the things that would disqualify a man are not necessarily those things that would be evident in his duties to the church.

It’s one thing if a guy is working on the church yard crew and you discover he is stealing gasoline for his own personal use. Perhaps you could have talked to some people and discovered he had a problem with stealing, before you let him on the crew, but a little gasoline isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things. It would be quite another thing to put a homosexual in with a bunch of young boys. You don’t want to wait until you discover that he is luring the boys into his car after services before you decide he is disqualified. And lest you think I’m just picking on the homosexuals, the same goes for people involved in adultery and other forms of fornication. If you know a man has a problem like that, you don’t want to put him in a situation where he is leading women. His intentions may be good, but a moment of weakness can cause problems. A big part of how we should judge is in our desire to prevent problems, and it is less so in punishing people who have caused problems.