Recent times have proven to be an all-Christian matter and affair what with the financial scandals involving some banks and their board members and management, including a renowned man of God, Pastor Dr. Mensah Otabil.
When he was expected to speak on the issue and explain what role he played which led to the collapse of two banks under his watch, he only celebrated a festival of three lessons, based only those powerful words of praise, God is Good!
Certainly, to the thousands who lost their jobs and livelihoods, such an expression of praise would be hard to accept, coming from someone people alleged was solely to blame, since he was the Chairman of the boards of two of the banks.
In the midst of all this, another powerful man of God, Archbishop Nicholas Duncan Williams, admonished those he called believers and true Christians never to judge and rather shut up when matters concerning Pastor Otabil are raised.
Indeed, it is rather amusing for the Archbishop to deem it right to pass judgment on a group of Christians, who feel they have their God-given right to question the conduct of the pastor in such serious financial malfeasance, and call them non-Christians, and, at the same time, warn them against judging others.
For the sake of the Unbelieving Christians, this write-up could be a guide to better understanding the command of Jesus, “Thou Shall Not Judge.”
I will begin by saying for a fact that it will be amazing to know that, generally, the Unbelieving Christians understand the Sacred Scriptures more deeply than their Believing Brethren. It is because, when faced with confusing verses and statements in the Bible, they dig deep into the source to find out more about them. This enlightens the mind and makes them more informed, even in their disbeliefs and that source is Sacred Tradition.
For example, Jesus Christ warned that calling a fellow brother “a fool” will find you in hell, however, He did call the Pharisees “fools”, and so did St. Paul to the Galatians and a few other people. But, of course, Jesus is not hell bound, and so is St. Paul. How come? Let us go on first to discuss why Unbelievers believe in judging people, in other words, what exactly did Christ mean when he said that in the Gospel of St. Matthew 7:1.
Jesus’ command, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (St. Matthew 7:1), could be the most widely quoted of His sayings, even though it is almost invariably quoted in complete disregard of its context. Many people use this verse in an attempt to silence their critics, interpreting Jesus’ meaning as “You do not have the right to tell me I am wrong.”
The Bible’s command that we should not judge others does not mean we cannot show discernment, for immediately after Jesus says, “Do not judge,” He says, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs” (St. Matthew 7:6), and a little later, in the same sermon, He says, “Watch out for false prophets… By their fruits you will recognise them” (verses 15–16). How are we to discern who are the “dogs” and “pigs” and “false prophets” unless we have the ability to make a judgment call on doctrines and deeds.
Also, the Bible’s command that we not judge others does not mean all actions are equally moral, or that truth is relative. The Bible clearly teaches that truth is objective, eternal, and inseparable from God’s character. Anything that contradicts the truth is a lie, but, of course, to call something a “lie” is to pass judgment. To call adultery or murder a sin is likewise to pass judgment, but it is also to agree with God. When Jesus said not to judge others, He did not mean that no one can identify sin for what it is, based on God’s definition of sin.
And the Bible’s command that we not judge others does not mean there should be no mechanism for dealing with sin. The Bible has a whole book entitled “Judges”, and the judges in the Old Testament were raised up by God Himself (Judges 2:18). The modern judicial system, including its judges, is a necessary part of society. And Jesus acknowledged the role of judges when He advised that it was better to make peace with your brother before he drags you to the judge.
Elsewhere, Jesus gives a direct command to judge: “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly” (St. John 7:24). Here we have a clue as to the right type of judgment versus the wrong type. Taking this verse and some others, we can put together a description of the sinful type of judgment:
Superficial judgment is wrong. Passing judgment on someone, based solely on appearances, is sinful (St. John 7:24). It is foolish to jump to conclusions before investigating the facts (Proverbs 18:13). Simon the Pharisee passed judgment on a woman based on her appearance and reputation, but he could not see that the woman had been forgiven; Simon, thus, drew Jesus’ rebuke for his unrighteous judgment (St. Luke 7:36-50).
Hypocritical judgment is wrong. Jesus’ command not to judge others in St. Matthew 7:1 is preceded by comparisons to hypocrites (St. Matthew 6:2,5,16), and followed by a warning against hypocrisy (St. Matthew 7:3-5). When we point out the sin of others while we ourselves commit the same sin, we condemn ourselves (Romans: 2:1).
Harsh, unforgiving judgment is wrong. We are “always to be gentle toward everyone” (Titus 3:2). It is the merciful who will be shown mercy (St. Matthew 5:7), and, as Jesus warned, “In the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you,” (St. Matthew 7:2)
Self-righteous judgment is wrong. We are called to humility, and “God opposes the proud” (James 4:6). The Pharisee in Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, (St. 18:9-14) was confident in his own righteousness, and from that proud position, judged the publican, however, God sees the heart and refused to forgive the Pharisee’s sin.
Untrue judgment is wrong. The Bible clearly forbids bearing false witness (Proverbs 19:5). “Slander no one” (Titus 3:2).
Christians are often accused of “judging” or intolerance when they speak out against sin. But opposing sin is not wrong. Holding aloft the standard of righteousness naturally defines unrighteousness and draws the slings and arrows of those who choose sin over godliness. St. John the Baptist incurred the ire of Herodias when he spoke out against her adultery with Herod (St. Mark 6:18-19). She eventually silenced John, but she could not silence the truth (Isaiah 40:8).
Believers are warned against judging others unfairly or in a non-righteously manner, but Jesus commends “right judgment” (St. John 7:24). We are to be discerning (Colossians 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:21). We are to preach the whole counsel of God, including the Bible’s teaching on sin (Acts 20:27; 2 Timothy 4:2). We are to gently confront erring brothers or sisters in Christ (Galatians 6:1). We are to practice church discipline (St. Matthew 18:15-17). We are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
The Lord Jesus Christ did, indeed, mandate that we should judge, but do so in the spirit of love with the intention to repair and restore, not break and destroy.
What we have been doing in the world today is what I call the Crucifixion of the Cross. All the sacrifices Jesus made on Calvary that first Good Friday, and all that He achieved for the salvation of mankind, is being put in a comical theater and made to look rubbish.
Some Christians are out there mocking Jesus, and their leadership are leading in this defamatory manner they portray Christ to others. We now have the ideals of Christianity thrown overboard and in place it is all about money, yes, wealth, prestige and fame. And all these happen in the midst of poverty and deprivation of the followers, whose widow’s mite makes the leaders become rich overnight.
It is under such conditions that if a man of God is found to have mismanagement his position and led lots of people out of jobs and livelihoods, all Christians, Believers and Unbelievers, are mandated to know and judge which way that person of God is leading himself/herself and the faithful.
If Believers are not to judge, then why do they judge and condemn the mainline churches for being Unbelievers, and do not worship in the Spirit and are not Bible Believing? Archbishop Duncan Williams cannot pronounce a fiat on all Christians to shut up while the Cross of Christ is been crucified by those who are supposed to be His followers and evangelise others by their acts.
We, the Unbelievers, have so little faith, the size of mustard seed, and we can move mountains. Sacred Traditions make us understand the Sacred Scriptures better, so we stand up and stand out among others filled with the Spirit, but may not speak in tongues and tell people about Christ.
The word “Fool” used by Jesus and the apostles comes in two different meanings. One means dump, stupid, simpleton, and the other means ignorant. Jesus was against calling another dump, stupid, simpleton, etc., etc., which means degrading the creation of God. He was not against calling someone ignorant, which, even the wise, can be.
Sacred Tradition tells us that in translating the Sacred Scriptures from Greek to English, the word closest in meaning for the Greek word for stupid and ignorant was the English word, Fool.
We pray that we choose to walk on the right side of foolish in order to draw more souls to Jesus Christ. We are Unbelievers, and we understand when to judge and when not to.
Hon. Daniel Dugan