Saturday, September 16, 2017

On Judging

We are duty-bound to judge what is right from what is wrong. From Monsignor Charles Pope:
Who am I to Judge? I am a guardian, called to protect the Church, my family, and the world from wrongdoing. St. Paul warns that Bad company corrupts good morals (1 Cor 15:33) and that a little leaven (i.e., evil) leavens the whole lump (Gal 5:8).

Thus, in correcting the sinner, we are concerned not only for him or her, but for the community and the common good as well. Sinful and disordered behavior is harmful to community. Not only does it bring suffering to the sinner and others affected by the sin, but it also gives scandal and may incite unhealthy responses such as vengeance or hateful anger. There are times when, after repeated correction of the sinner fails, we must purge the sinful influence for the sake of the community. St. Paul says, We instruct you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to shun any brother who walks in a disorderly way and not according to the tradition they received from us (2 Thess 3:6). Here, St. Paul seeks to preserve the community from disorder and heresy. He also declares, I wrote to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber—not even to eat with such a one. Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? (1 Cor 5:11)

These more severe methods are sometimes necessary to reach a hardened sinner as well as to protect the community. Once again, this requires judgment.

Who am I to Judge? I am one who has been commanded by Jesus to do so. Jesus sayid, If your brother sins, go and point out his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won him over (Mat 18:15).

The clear mandate of the Lord to set others right. This is not possible without first judging what is right from what is wrong based on the Lord’s teaching. Then, having observed wrongdoing or error, we must seek to correct it.
The Lord expects us to correct people we know and who are in sin. We ought to do it in humility and with love, but we are to do it. This is especially true if we are in a role of leadership or prominence: a pastor, teacher, parent, or elder.

In all of these senses, who are you not to judge?

There are certain judgments that we cannot make. For example, I cannot judge that I am holier than you, or that you are more holy than I. Scripture says, Man sees the appearance, but God looks into the heart (1 Sam 16:7). I cannot tell you if someone is in Hell; only God can make that judgment. I am also forbidden the “judgment of condemnation,” wherein I am unnecessarily harsh in punishments or conclusions. In this regard, Jesus, using the poetry of couplets, says, Do not judge and you will not be judged; do not condemn and you will not be condemned (Luke 6:37). Indeed, the Lord further issues this warning regarding unnecessarily harsh judgments: For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you (Mat 7:2).
None of this is a mandate for silence in the face of sin or wrongdoing. We must judge between good and evil; we cannot shirk our duties to correct error and to rebuke sin in others. Who am I to judge in this regard? I am a watchman, a lover of souls, a guardian, and one who has been commanded by Christ to speak to a brother who sins. And just we are called to correct, we must also be open to correction ourselves. (Read more.)

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