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Reference: Judging


The subject of ethical judging meets us frequently in the NT. 1. It is the right and duty of a moral being to judge of the goodness or badness of actions and qualities; and Christianity, by exalting the moral standard and quickening the conscience, makes ethical judgments more obligatory than before. In cases where our judgments are impersonal there is no difficulty as to the exercise of this right. As possessed of a conscience, a man is called upon to view the world in the discriminating light of the moral law (Ro 2:14 ff., 2Co 4:2). As possessed of a Christian conscience, a Christian man must test everything by the law of Christ (Php 1:10 Revised Version margin, 1Th 5:21). 'He that is spiritual judgeth all things' (1Co 2:15).

2. So far all is clear. But when we pass to the sphere of judgments regarding persons, the case is not so simple. It might seem at first almost as if in the NT all judgment of persons were forbidden. There is our Lord's emphatic 'Judge not' (Mt 7:1). There is St. Paul's demand, 'Why dost thou judge thy brother?' (Ro 14:10), his injunction, 'Let us not therefore judge one another' (Ro 14:13), his bold claim that he that is spiritual is judged of no man (1Co 2:15). There is the assertion of St. James that the man who judges his brother is making himself a judge of the law (Jas 4:11), i.e. the royal law of love (cf. Jas 2:8). But it is impossible to judge of actions and qualities without passing on to judge the persons who perform them or in whom they inhere. If an action is sinful, the person who commits it is sinful; indeed, the moral quality of an action springs from its association with a moral personality. In condemning anything as wrong, we necessarily condemn the person who has been guilty of it. And when we look more closely at the teaching of the NT, we find that it is not judgment of others that is forbidden, but unfair judgment

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