There is often an emphasis on the passage which tell Christians to “judge not” (Matthew 7:1 – part of the Sermon on the Mount) without a corresponding consideration of the context. In so doing it is easy to forget that the Bible also says that if we are not discerning (judging), we are not mature! “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14).
Judgment and discernment both concern themselves with distinguishing between good and bad, acceptable and unacceptable, legal and illegal, and so forth. Without a lot of explanation in this blog, I will simply say that we are wrong to judge motives but should be evaluating ideas and actions.
One area of judgment or evaluation which is hard to dispute is with regard to the Word of God as the standard used for judgment.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “He that is spiritual evaluates all things” (1 Corinthians 2:15). The context of Paul’s comment is in regard to God’s truth. We also find Paul challenging Timothy to accurately discern or judge the Word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
Also, recall that the Bereans were commended for “Evaluating the Scriptures daily, to see whether the things they were told were really true were so” (Acts 17:11). It is clear that judging is a direct responsibility of every Christian.
This concept of spiritual discernment or correct Christian judgment is closely related to what might be called applied Christianity. There are those who know the right thing to do but do not take action on their knowledge—intellect without action. On the other hand there are those who are going about doing good without knowing the Biblical basis for their good works—action without corresponding knowledge. Authentic Christianity has a threefold aspect, first knowing what to do, second judgment or discernment regarding the situation, and third taking appropriate action.
The more Christ-like we become—the more spiritually mature—the more we will be able to judge between good and evil.
We are to judge all areas of life except other people’s motives—God will judge that. Here are a few examples of what we are to judge.
Examine Your Spiritual Position ~ “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
Examine Your Lifestyle ~ “A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup” in the Christian ordinance of communion (1 Corinthians 11:28).
Examine and Correct Others ~ “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself!” (Galatians 6:1). In many other Bible passages we are told to rebuke and to exhort our fellow Christians (for example Titus 2:15).
Examine Everything Around Us ~ “Test everything. Hold onto the good. Avoid every kind of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22).
The Bible tells us “The spiritual man makes judgments about all things” (1 Corinthians 2:15), but be cautious because a careful reading of this verse shows that such judging is based upon being a “spiritual man” who has the “mind of Christ.”
contemplate: Do you have a good grasp of the balance with regard to the command to “judge not” and the mark of Christian maturity—the ability to “distinguish between good and evil?” (Also see Proverbs 11:1.)