Friday, 13 September 2019
Luke 6:37 Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;
Wow - no judging. But what does that mean? Does that mean that we should be unable to protect ourselves and our families from harm or unsuitable people? How can we respond to complaints about inappropriate behaviour if we don't judge?
The answer is the difference between judging and inspection. Only those who have been given the role and office of judge are allowed to judge; we are all called to be fruit inspectors.
Judges operate in a particular realm, or with a certain scope, for example, family law, criminal law, civil law. In the judiciary, judges operate at a particular level and their decisions may be appealed for review by higher judges. The head-teachers of schools have a mandate to judge certain activities that happen within their schools. Parents have the right and authority to judge certain matters relating to their children. We must carry out the responsibilty to judge that we have been given.
We are all called to inspect the fruit of people's lives and to make decisions on the basis of what we find for ourselves and those for whom we are responsible. Equally, we are forbidden from spreading that about to other people for whom we are not responsible - that crosses the line into judgement. Jesus told the disciples:
Matthew 7:15-16 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
So we carry out the ministry of fruit inspection. We check what people say, their attitudes and behaviour, their lifestyles - to make sure that they are safe for us and our families to associate with:
Matthew 7:17-18 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.
These things, try as people may (and will), cannot be hidden. We have been given the gift of discernment through the Holy Spirit and the exercise of that gift will show us things that may be hidden from others.
Matthew 7:19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
This is not our job; we do not go around cutting down trees. That is the responsibility of those appointed to judge such matters. We can - and must - make choices then enable us and our families to be safe by not hanging around or allowing the influence of bad trees in our lives.