Overly Judgemental Versus Discernment

I think that one of the most difficult things that I personally deal with, both from within and without, has to do with questioning myself as to whether I am being overly judgemental or practising Biblical discernment. If I listened to one of my critics (the number varies from time to time), I have been told that I am bent on destroying. The connotation being that I am overly critical and focus more on the negative rather than the positive.

I actually pray about this a lot, because Jesus specifically stressed that when we make judgements, to ensure that we are not being hypocritical, to ensure that our judgements are righteous, in that we are not actually quilty of doing what we are identifying in others, ourselves.

I don’t know about you but my track record in maintaining this goal is not always that great. I think I am better than I used to be, but there is obviously still room for more improvement. I do endeavour to be mindful of my own shortcomings and consequently I actually do limit myself in voicing observations, when confronted with shortcomings that I see in others. Consequently, I very rarely, if ever, voice concerns about false pride or lack of consideration for others, as a couple of examples, that I sometimes see in others (be they Christian or non-Christian), because of my own shortfalls in these specific and other areas.

What I do try to focus on is adhering to sound Christian doctrine, which, of necessity, centres on staying on point when it comes to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That would mean that I would object to the doctrines that Mormons have about Jesus because their doctrines do not adhere to our Christian doctrines about Jesus and I would also object to recommending or using “The Passion Bible”, as another example, because it literally replaces many Scripture verses with words that support unBiblical New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) teachings, words that are not found in the ancient copies of the originals.

The short story is that I do try to limit any criticism or objections that I may have, to topics within the Bible that deviate from what the Bible actually teaches. And where there are acknowledged different schools of thought on a particular subject, such as Old Earth, Young Earth Creationism, Calvinism and Arminianism or Eternal Security, as examples, I facilitate those different schools of thought as secondary issues, that do not limit my accepting anyone who holds a perspective that may differ from mine, as a fellow Christian brother or sister in the Lord.

I have and also do however, exercise Biblical Discernment, when it comes to Biblical teachings, which are not supported by the Bible and I been known to object to some who teach these unsupported teachings. An example is that we should never judge anyone (both non-Christians and Christians) and just love everyone, and disregard the clear teachings we find in the Bible for the necessity of Christians to exercise Church Discipline within the Church. Being non-judgemental towards non-Christians is a given, but that does not justify using that same non-judgemental stance within the Church, just because some deem it not necessary and something that the Lord can better address. For those who hold these unsubstantiated Biblical views, I do not make any judgement on their salvation status, but I do note that we have clear differences of opinion, and that we have agreed to disagree, should the exchange become contentious, after or during the period where we both are making our Biblical case. And I do always endeavour to always remain civil throughout the discussion.

What I do find lacking however, in far too many cases, is the exercise of any Biblical discernment at all.

The Apostle Paul explicitly states in Galatians 1:8 NASBBut even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!”

That is a pretty strong statement! In fact, Paul repeats it again in Galatians 1:9 so that there is no misunderstanding! Having read that statement and taken it to heart, one would think that one would want to know exactly what is entailed within the Gospel that Paul preached to those Galatians, so that we could identify a gospel that is in fact, contrary.

So if you ran into someone who says that Jesus, who the Mormons follow and Jesus who Christians follow, are one and the same Jesus, would that not qualify as a gospel that is contrary to what Paul preached? And if someone called that person into question, for making that statement, would that be a example of someone being overly judgemental or exercising Biblical discernment? And just so you know, in this real life example that I am using, this is NOT the only questionable statement being made by this particular individual. Sometimes people can be misquoted or they can say something that is misunderstood, but such is not the case here.

To the person who does NOT exercise Biblical discernment and has already decided that the person that made this statement, is beyond reproach, anyone who questions that person would be labeled as being overly judgemental. And the reasoning for this logic is not difficult to ascertain. When you call into question someone who another person has already decided is beyond reproach, what you are also doing is calling their decision making process or discernment abilities into question.

But to the person who DOES exercise Biblical discernment and takes that warning that Paul gave, to heart, this is not being overly judgemental, it is in fact, an absolute necessity to challenge, especially if that person is being showcased as a born again Christian.

The difference between those two differing perspectives is what? One perspective seldom if ever questions Biblical doctrine and teachings and the other perspective does. And who do you think is much more prone to become led astray and who do you think will label the other as being bent to destroy?

I am not lamenting about being called bent on destroying. I’ve been called worse. What does hurt is that a fellow believer does not see the necessity of exercising Biblical discernment and not only that, but indicates distain for someone who does.

I am aware of how easy it can be to be overly judgemental. One really does have to guard against it at all times. I am aware of my own shortcomings and I do earnestly try not to be hypocritical, I am making headway but nothing to get excited about yet. I am also aware that there has never been a time, in my considerable recollection, that Biblical discernment is more needed, than it is now.

Something to think about.

Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!

8 comments

  1. I guess I am more of a deflective type person bent of coming along side others when possible (In person only). When I see (even blatant)scriptural error I don’t point it out directly but rather say “I have studied that topic in depth” and then ask the question “are you open to knowing what the biblical thread throughout the bible says about that? it’s quite eye opening!”
    Their response may put me on a different track. In one case I told someone who wanted an argument that I would respond as Jesus would. I took off a shoe and shook it and put it back on without saying anything. That created another track and still allowed me to come along side them in conversation. Lot’s of stories on keeping a conversation open, hoping to sway with truth down the road when they are open. online I don’t engage.

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    • Hi Gary, I LOVE that taking off your shoe response. I REALLY have to remember that one. Contrary to what it may appear as, I really don’t get into many argumentative discussions, maybe one a year, if that. When it gets close to home (family) I do get a bit more responsive although I have had to back off on those too. And if there is one recurring lesson that I have learned from the on-line interactions, it is that no one likes to be challenged. Always thought that one should be able to Biblically present your case for any stance taken but when that fails (i.e. they cannot argue against the logic of the Scriptures), it inevitably turns personal and then I just back off. Only one of those so far this year and it still ended relatively friendly. I’m beginning to see the wisdom in the Scripture that says to always be ready to give an answer for those who ASK, for the hope that we have. Pretty sure the key word there is ASK! In person I do the same thing you do, throw out a seemingly innocent statement (sorry for the delayed response, I was praying etc) and wait to see if anything follows. Seems to me that you’re one of those crafty guys! Good for you! Blessings Gary and thank you for taking the time to respond.

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  2. I appreciate you reminding us about the scripture that says, “if anyone ask”. And I love the, “taking off the shoe” idea from Gary. This is why reading comments are important, another way to gleam. All that to say your post makes me grateful for my husband for he always see can discern when truth has been watered down, changed to fit the speaker stand, etc. He helps me a lot understand the importance of doctrine. I have learned when in a opinion discussion all of us have and want to give OUR opinion. and even though we may be right, sometimes the timing is not right. I always try to defer back to Jesus words in red. Of course I fail like all of us do because, well my opinion is important to me…joke and I am the important one in any discussion. Listening is the hard part of any discussion on any subject. I am thankful for your striving Bruce and other men and women of God who have that gift of keeping the doctrines of the Word straight. For all true doctrine leads to Jesus.

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    • Hi Betty, Yes you’re right, listening is very important, as is timing as you mentioned and determining as to whether what we have to say adds to or takes away from the topic being discussed. I can tell you that I am grateful that God is patient with us because if He wasn’t, we would all be in the hurt locker. Blessings to you and yours Betty and thank you for commenting, sincerely appreciated.

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  3. Good topic, Bruce. The Lord Jesus Christ was/is full of both grace and truth and we see that perfect balance demonstrated throughout the Gospels. I’m definitely not Jesus, and so I imperfectly lean toward the Biblical truth/doctrine/discernment side and am sometimes accused of being unloving and judgmental. As you say, the church pendulum has swung way, way, way over to the grace side while discernment/truth is not welcomed or appreciated. No doubt society’s acceptance of the notion of relative truth is also making inroads into the church. Quasi-(c)hristian sects that unabashedly confess to a works-rightousness gospel are still embraced as Christian by undiscerning believers. The sad thing is their pastors are often leading the way.

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  4. Bruce, I once heard a man divide people into 3 categories, wolves, sheep, and sheep dogs. The first two are obvious, but the sheep dogs help shepherd the flock as “under shepherds” and when a cliff, bad water, dangerous predator, etc. comes around the flock of sheep, the sheep dog instinctly bark to warn the flock, start to run and corral the sheep by moving them to a safe place and then, when need be, turn and defend the flock in head to head battle.

    I think that by God’s design, you, my friend, are a sheep dog!

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