There is a vast difference between judgment and discernment. As followers of Christ we are called to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. We are to discern when there are people, events or actions that will keep up from seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteous, holy ways. Discernment from God comes from God’s saturated wisdom. Being wise and discerning is what we must do and be concerned with — not judgment. When we judge others we step into God’s role. Judging others keeps us from being God’s messengers of grace and redemption. People are looking and they see a church divided, a church that is waterlogged with judgmental and hypocritical ways.
Luke 6:37 says: “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.” Jesus was directly speaking to people who loved God and who needed to display their love toward others in better ways.
In Luke 6:41-42, Jesus continues to address this issue by saying: “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying, ‘Friend, let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”
Just like choosing wisdom or being discerning, judgment is a choice. Followers of Christ have a high calling to help one another grow in grace. Scripture is clear — our words and actions are powerful; take them seriously! Judging others clouds our vision and distorts the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Oftentimes people hid behind their judgmental views and surround themselves with people who do the very same thing — or who will tolerate this behavior.
Jesus chooses the symbol of the eye in Luke 6 because this is one of the most sensitive areas of the body. The picture of a man with a 2-by-4 stuck in his eye, trying to help someone else remove a speck of dust from their own eye. It’s crazy. If we don’t honestly face up to our own sins and confess them, we blind ourselves and we’ll never be able to truly help others. The reality is that all of us have issues and all of us have elements in our lives that are causing us to not see clearly. But instead of focusing on our own problems, we want to point out the person in the room with a bigger problem and hope it is large enough that no one will notice our own.
As followers of Christ, we must choose to exercise love and tenderness in our words and actions. Ephesians 4:15 reminds us to be “speaking the truth in love.” When your heart and mind are saturated with the Word of God, it is His wisdom and truth that make you understand what is right and what is wrong. It is the work of the Holy Spirit that leads you to pursue righteous and holy living. When we address the wrong around us, be discerning — be full of wisdom — but be not judgmental for we are to speak the truth in love, saturated with holy wisdom from God alone.
Nick Emery is the senior pastor at Good Shepherd Wesleyan Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.