In America, Christians live with the silent tension of being perceived as judgmental, and having our beliefs easily dismissed as intolerant.
In response, we volley between jello-ish statements of faith to all out dogmatic judgment. Neither stance lines up with scripture or demonstrates to the world the holiness and love of God.
So, how can we as Christians demonstrate love and justice simultaneously?
In human thinking, these two concepts conflict with one another, but that’s a logical fallacy.
Only God can teach us true tolerance, the meshing of love and justice simultaneously.
A little over a couple of years ago I sat with a husband and wife in my office, and the husband confessed to adultery. This situation happens often, and it’s those moments when I have to choose to demonstrate both love and justice.
After telling me he had nothing else to confess, the husband returned home to confess 10 additional affairs to his wife.
She was crushed, and called me at ten o’clock at night. I told her I needed to speak to her husband.
I asked the man, “Do you understand that you have burned every hair of trust that you had with your wife?” He understood.
I counseled him to spend the next seven years building trust with his wife, working deliberately to honor God in his marriage by never going back to that sin.
Last week I saw the man. He said, “Vince, the most important moment in my entire life when I was on the phone with you and you challenged me to the core about what I was really lying about in my relationship with my wife.”
In every day or our lives, we must combine love and justice; a crucial combination for our relationships with one another, the world, and God.
Jesus does not prohibit judgment. In fact, He calls us to discern what is holy and pure. In fact, throughout the entire Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls us to make judgments about adultery, anger, lust, and cursing.
“Judge not that you be not judged for with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged and with the measure you use it will be measured to you Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye but do no notice the log that is in your own eye? 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? 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. Do not give dogs what is holy. Do not throw your pearls before the pigs lest they trample under foot and turn to attack you” (Matthew 7:1-6).
There are two types of judgment. One comes from a sinful heart motivation, causing us to be critical of other people, making us judgmental.
The other form of judgment comes from the beauty of moral discernment, a necessity for abundant life and to honor God.
Because God calls us to understand what is holy and pure.
He wants us to use our moral discernment to understand the world so that we can discern between right and wrong.
Moral discernment cares for other people sincerely.
When we stand before God at final judgment, He will peel open our hearts and look at the intent and the desire and the motivation of everything we did, whether from sincere love or sinful motivation.
The second difference between moral discernment and being in a state of judgment of others is awareness of our own sin.
In verse three, Jesus calls us to self-examination with the example of a speck and log. He’s pointing out the need to be aware of the sins in our own lives. How that makes a difference in how we morally discern what’s going on in the lives of others.
This is a very tender topic.
We’ve all got blind spots. There are things I can’t see about myself that sometimes my wife has to make me aware of over and over and over and over again. She makes me aware of my behavior patterns and the things I do wrong. Not easy. But we all need accountability because we are all blind.
Jesus wants us to look inside, in order to tackle sin of our own lives. That changes our posture from self-righteousness to humility as we approach one another, knowing we are all fallen creatures.
The third difference between moral discernment and a judgmental posture relates to our personal integrity. Once again, Jesus calls out our hypocrisy by challenging us to deal with our own sin, cleansing ourselves. Taking out the log.
We are to live integrated and whole lives as people of faith in Jesus Christ. That faith impacts our entire being. When we have reconciled the sin in our own heart and integrated God’s wholeness, then we can walk out and discern with God-like certainty, with a posture that comes from the Lord Jesus Christ about what is truly moral and beautiful.
Without love (mercy) we are destroyed. So God sent Jesus to the cross and beautifully united the two so that we may be one in Christ.
Jesus Christ does not dismiss judgment. He elevates moral discernment.