I had a peculiar thing happen to me yesterday. I admit that I have gained weight over the last several months while being locked in due to COVID-19, some stress in my life, and other medical issues. Gaining weight isn’t peculiar, especially when the nation is in lockdown, what is peculiar is the lady that told me that I was putting on weight, did not offend me. Most people would have been hurt by the observation true or not, but I wasn’t even hurt. I didn’t even realize that maybe I should have been until later.
I don’t know how she avoided being offensive, but I wish I could bottle how she did that.
The world is filled with offensive speech, some of that speech we need to hear, What if, for example, I did not already know that I was gaining weight, or I did not know how dangerous being overweight can be. People around me who know the cold truth could avoid offending me, by keeping their mouths shut, but what would that do? It would cause me to die early via some illness that could have been avoided or at least delayed had I been practicing good diet and exercise habits. While there are some things in this world that none of us want to hear, many of those things we need to hear. We need to hear that there are healthier ways to live, we need to hear about the gospel, we need to hear when our behavior is hurting others. We also need to be careful when we tell these things to others. Being rude just hurts people. When we speak about subject that hurts, we while remaining truthful need to soften the blow however possible. When we feel it necessary to judge, we need to do it with as much love as possible, or we may end up hurting people, more than we are helping them.
2 Timothy 4:1-2 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
Many people think that Matthew 7:1 forbids judging, and they use it as an excuse to just sit by and endorse sin by keeping our mouths shut, but if you have read the definitions of the highlighted words above you know that the Bible tells us that there are situations that we can correct, express disapproval, criticize sharply, and warn people away from sin. All of those things are kinds of judging. So Matthew 7:1 can’t mean what people think it means. If you read down to Matthew 7:5 you will discover that it is referring to hypocritical judgment.
This isn’t an excuse to be mean and nasty if you reread 2 Timothy 4:1-2 you will see that it ends with the phrase “encourage with great patience and teaching. “. While there are forms of judging we can and should do, we should not do it with the purpose of making the person feel below you, we are to teach them with patience. Sometimes we may have to speak sharply like when some drunk person wants to drive a car filled with kids, but that kind of judging should be limited to situations that demand action that minute. If you are judging because you care, and not out of hate, it is a legitimate thing to do. Just remember that God is love, and wants you to behave with love too.
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Proverbs 31:8-9 Speak up for people who cannot speak for themselves. Help people who are in trouble. 9 Stand up for what you know is right, and judge all people fairly. Protect the rights of the poor and those who need help.
: to form an opinion about (something or someone) after careful thought
: to regard (someone) as either good or bad
via The Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Does anyone think that it is even possible to go through life without forming a careful opinion?
The verses in the Bible that to often get interpreted as saying we should not judge at all, are really telling us how to judge, not that we should not judge at all.