Playing judge.

“Don’t judge me!”

We all have heard or used this phrase at some point. It has become highly used in media and our society. People use it as something to get others off their back when they don’t want to receive any flack for what they’re doing. To be honest, I get that. But this phrase is something that lukewarm Christians love to use, and cling to. They use it as a get out of jail free card… Do they really understand what they’re saying?

The word “judgement,” according to Webster’s online dictionary, means “to form an opinion.” As humans, we constantly are making judgments. We judge whether or not it is safe to cross a street, befriend an individual, or if we can eat something.

As believers, we are called to make judgments regarding teaching, and even other people. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 says we are to “examine everything carefully; and hold fast to that which is good.” We NEED to be careful about what teaching we are taking in. We need to judge and discern whether or not the teaching is sound.

Matthew 7:15-20 talks about how we need to judge people by their fruits. If someone is a toxic person, we need to be extremely wise. We need to watch our interactions with them and be careful.

The word condemn means “to declare to be reprehensible, wrong, or evil usually after weighing evidence and without reservation.”

I personally think people actually mean “condemn” when they use the word “judge.” Most everyone judges each other and their surroundings, whether they’re aware of it or not. Some people condemn each other, which is blatantly wrong.

Romans 2 talks about this very subject. Verse 1 says that when we judge (or condemn) another, we bring judgement upon ourselves.

Think about this for a minute…. When we condemn other people, we bring the judgement of God upon ourselves.

We’re all human. We have no place to condemn each other. We’re all equal individuals under God. Verse 11 of Romans 2 says that there is no partiality with God. That is something to rejoice in.

Before I end this post, I’d like to go back to the idea of the lukewarm believers who use the “Don’t judge me, only God can!” card for a minute. This is a tricky issue that typically church leadership or people IN church leadership deal with. Sometimes believers fall into sin patterns and need a pastor, elder, mentor or fellow believer to come along side and encourage the person back to faith. This is to be done with utmost love and care… Not condescendingly, but with the love of Christ.

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Legalism. Worldliness. Holiness.

This is a fairly controversial topic within Christian circles… Legalism vs worldliness. Some fall into the trap of legalism, and uphold ridiculous rules that are completely extra Biblical. There also are those who let pretty much everything go… to the point of fault. This dilemma raises a few questions.

What is legalism?

{Right now I live in an extremely Mennonite community.  Most of the people in this town either are currently, or were practicing Mennonites. Because I’m somewhat familiar with some of their customs, I’ll use them to illustrate my point. I’m not trying to hate on them, just laying out the facts.}

Mennonites are the pure example of legalism. They believe that all women should be wearing bonnets and long dresses, and are even very specific about the way the pleats on the dresses are ironed. Men are to wear suspenders. collared shirts and caps/hats, and married men are to wear a long beard… This is merely scratching the surface of the Mennonite dress code. In the Mennonite church, you are to never smile because it is not godly.

Rules like these are so strongly held to, that there have been church splits over silly things like the color dress you wear, the type of wheel on your buggy (steel or wooden), and the color of your horse. If you break these rules, you are living in sin.

They worship RULES instead of God. In this case, their rules are man made and have nothing to do with God. Yet somehow their rules equate to holiness.

What is worldliness?

Alright… I don’t need to elaborate on this one much. We turn on the TV for a moment and it’s right there, blatantly in our faces. Foul language, immorality, violence… it surrounds us. A PG movie is barely PG anymore.

Where do these two lead?

Legalism tends to lead to rebellion (aka worldliness). Worldliness leads to corruption, and the loss of your soul.

What is BIBLICAL Godliness/Holiness?

The Bible says over and over that we need to live in holiness. Philippians 1:27 says we need to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. All over 1st, 2nd and 3rd John we are called to be children of the Light and imitate goodness, for God is good. The book of Romans states that we are saved and justified by faith, not by following a list of rules or laws. In Christ there is grace, and we are no longer bound by these laws.

God calls us to be holy. Ultimately, He is the only Holy one. We all fall short, but we are called to do our best to be holy and righteous. We need to actively put aside sin and choose to walk in righteousness and godliness, knowing that we are justified before God through Christ and undergoing a constant process of sanctification which will eventually make us holy. This process will finally be completed when we reach perfection in Heaven.

But what about non-Christians? Obviously, they can’t be holy or godly. How should we treat them? What about believers that are trapped in sin?

Well that’s simple. We need to treat them exactly how Jesus would, with utmost love and care. We are not called to judge others punitively… we are called to love and forgive one another just as Christ did for us.

Now this whole “legalism is bad” thing is NOT a pass for Christians to live in sin and throw their hands up hollering “You’re being legalistic! Jesus is full of grace, I’m fine!” when someone tells them to change their ways. (Romans 6:1) We are called to walk in a manner worthy of the calling of Christ. Ultimately, walking in holiness is best for us. Walking in sin will only hurt us. We are called to holiness because it is the path that will lead to the least amount of pain. God loves us, which is why He calls us to this standard.

Living in legalism is living in bondage. Your life is dictated by rules, and you have no freedom. At the same time, living in worldliness also is living in bondage. You have a false sense of freedom, but really, you’re a slave to sin. Living in godliness is living in true freedom.