Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Difference between Judging and Rebuking

"The Bible clearly tells us not to judge (e.g. Matt. 7:1-5). But it also tells us to rebuke and correct in righteousness (e.g. 2 Tim. 3:16).  . . . If we can distinguish between judging and rebuking, I think we will see that truth and love are not mutually exclusive. This world has extremist responses to everything: humans like to either judge harshly, or be completely tolerant of any behavior; either roundly condemn, or accept all. Both are problematic. Legalists do the former; liberals do the latter. Pharisees do the former; "sinners" do the latter. . . . rebuking in righteousness is the middle way. . . . So what's the difference between judging and rebuking?

"Judging comes from a position of superiority and says, "You are damned for your sin! . . . Rebuking in righteousness comes from a position of identification as a fellow sinner, but an acknowledgment that "What you are doing (which is also what I am now struggling with, or have struggled with, or may very well be susceptible to in the future) is wrong, yes of course we recognize that, but I'm not going to slam you. Instead, let me walk alongside you and let me help extricate yourself from that sin just as I hope you would do with me if the positions were reversed." The difference largely lies in our attitude, and correspondingly how we express ourselves. It helps us to take the plank out of our own eye before we take the speck out of our neighbor's eye.

"In the imprecatory Psalms (e.g. Psalm 58, 68, 94, 109, 137), the Psalmist says some rather harsh things against the wicked. But notice that those things are not said to the wicked themselves, but offered up as a prayer to God. And in the final analysis, the Psalmist asks the Lord, in his righteousness, to exact whatever punishment the Lord deems fit. He doesn't take justice into his own hands, because only the One who is truly righteousness has the ability to judge. Are we, then, going to cast the first stone? Not unless we are without sin."

Luke 17:3 says, "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him."

     ~ Allen Yeh
       The Scriptorium Daily to read the whole article.

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