Last Sunday I was meditating on Jesus’ words in Luke 6:37:
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged.”
The truth is that everyone fancies themselves as excellent judges. From the way we dress, to the way we react to other drivers on our way into work, to the way we treat our co-workers, friends, and family, we make judgments every day.
The vast majority of our judgments aim to justify ourselves at the expense of others or to at least set ourselves apart from others who fall below a perceived standard. Nevertheless, there are times when people make very sound judgments that should be heeded. What is the difference between a good judgment and a bad judgment?
Perhaps one way to work this out is discussing the difference between a prophet and a legal judge. A judge is tasked with sentencing someone for his/her actions. The sentence is a punishment: that is the goal of a judge. In a Christian sense, a judge tells people where the fall short of God and what the consequences are.
A prophet on the other hand is concerned with communicating God’s will, where people fall short, and how to get back on track. The goal of a prophet goes a step beyond the sentence to repentance. Prophets begin with judging righteously, and then move on to restoration.
There are many who claim to be prophets today. Off the top of my head I can think of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as two Christian leaders who have been lableled as such. The problem is such prophets presume to interpret today’s events from God’s perspective, such as 9-11 or the tsunami in south east Asia, with dubious credentials and with little offered by way of repentance. The messages I’ve heard focus on the judgment.
Before we start pointing fingers though, it’s important to remember the prophetic function the entire church should be playing in our world. In our call to know God, we also bear the responsibility of bringing the world to repentance and restoration with God.
This is a heavy burden that requires humility in order to judge properly and then listening to God in order to share his message of restoration.