Someone emailed this to me today:
We are told to “Love like Jesus,” but can you love with judgement? To begin to understand how love and judgement are antithetical, one must simply look at the life of Jesus.
There are literally dozens of examples that one could choose from, but the most glaringly obvious one can be found in John chapter 8 where an adulterous woman is brought before Jesus to be stoned. Did Jesus pass judgement on this woman? She had broken the law, both religious and legal. She was clearly in the wrong and knew it. She was someone who had willingly made a choice that went against society. What did Jesus say to her? “Neither do I condemn you.” So many Christians like to jump on the part that immediately follows: “go and sin no more”, but I would posit that the part that mattered most to the woman, at that point in time, was not the second half but the first. Jesus had every right to pick up the stones left behind and stone that woman. Not only did he have the right (and arguably the requirement) as a Jew, but he had the right as the Son of God himself. Yet Jesus, the one person who is truly without sin, the one person who had every right to pass judgement on the woman, chose not to. If that woman had had a sliver of doubt that Jesus would pass judgement upon her, do you think she would have stayed after all of her accusers left and only Jesus remained? She willingly stayed and put her life (both metaphorically and literally) into his hands. He could not love that woman if he passed judgement on her, because passing judgement would mean picking up a rock and finishing the job.
Time and time again, both by example and explicitly, we are instructed to not judge others, but to love them. Philippians chapter 2 verse 12 states to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” indicating that salvation is a personal matter, and not everyone’s path to salvation will look the same. Even more explicitly Luke 6:37 states “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” This is found immediately after we are instructed to “love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” Romans 14:4 asks us “Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.” Shortly after in verse 13 Paul instructs us to “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.”
Jesus himself stated this explicitly: “if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.” (John 12:47)
Can you truly love someone if you render judgement on them? By the words of the Apostles and Jesus himself, the answer is no. Jesus died on the cross for us because he loved us, and for him to render judgement against us would have made that act both impossible and meaningless at the same time.
“You believe in abortion, you are not one of us.”
“You are of a different ethnicity, you are not one of us.”
“You support protests, you are not one of us.”
“You live an alternative lifestyle, you are not one of us.”
“You wear a mask, you are not one of us.”
To this I say, if you are a Christian, you are one of us, regardless of race, gender, sexual choices, or personal belief. All sin is equal in the eyes of God, and all have sinned and fallen short of the glory. Who are we to render judgement on others, because their life choices are different than ours? Who are we to render judgement on others when Paul and Jesus not only refused to, but explicitly instructed us not to? How can we help someone to work out their own salvation if we cannot show them love because we are judging them based on their actions, beliefs, or lifestyle? Love, mercy, and salvation all go hand and hand, judgement is not found there.
I leave you with this:
“Which is the great commandment in the law?”
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Image of Christ and the Woman Taken into Adultery by Alessandro Turchi via Wikimedia Commons — GFDL