11.5.19 Praise & Prayer Prompt: Judgment vs. Discernment

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• In our culture, it’s very popular to turn to social media and passive-aggressively attack others. And sometimes, our “passive” is a little on the subtle side. Whatever the he-said-she-said pseudo-accusation boils down to, it’s designed to mentally shame the one who “reads between the lines.”

The sad thing is, this stuff carries over to Christians. We self-righteously defend our position with declarations that God knows the truth and that someday, justice will be served. 

There’s some merit there. After all, no matter what the circumstances, God does know the truth. Better than we do. And yes, someday justice is going to be served.

But in the process of our self-righteous indignation, we also try to poke holes in another person’s faith. And that is not okay. We need to learn that there’s a marked difference between judging someone and using discernment to redirect them.

Let’s start with Jesus’s words in Matthew 7:1 ESV, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” 

Sigh. One of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible. The problem is most people read this and stop right here. “Ha! See? Jesus said not to judge me!” 

Not exactly. He also followed that up by saying, “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:2 ESV). Basically, He said, “Don’t dish it if you can’t take it.” There’s a fine line between judging and being judgmental, which is what Jesus was warning against. Being judgmental looks down on others in a critical way and we have no authority to do that. Jesus said our judgments are going to come back on us in the same way we judge others. The rest of the passage talks about dealing with our own sins before passing judgment on others.

On the other hand, we have discernment. And with discernment, we look at a situation for the rights and wrongs with godly wisdom, then lovingly approach our brothers and sister in Christ to help redirect them. It’s done in a way that’s never meant to belittle or hurt another. And that is Biblical. Let’s go to 2 Timothy 2:24-25b, which says, “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness” (ESV). Notice—that discerning moment is done with patience, kindness, and gentleness, three of the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). 

And you can hardly speak of Fruit of the Spirit without love which is the foundation for all of it! It’s the key ingredient for this! After all, in 1 Corinthians 13:1 ESV, it says, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”

So let’s sum this up. Judging others is a judgmental kind of looking down on someone. We shouldn’t do that, though every one of us is guilty of it. There’s no love in being judgmental and without love, we’re just making noise.

We are, however, called to lovingly redirect our fellow Christians through godly discernment, utilizing the Fruit of the Spirit. 

But above all, we are to pray for one another. James 5:16 is one of my favorite verses and it says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (ESV). It’s not about judging someone else’s walk with God or their faith, but it’s about praying for others to walk in God’s will.

Today, as you pray, thank Jesus that though He could legitimately point the fingers of judgment on us, He came not to condemn but to save (John 12:47). Thank God for being the one true, righteous God who loves us so much, He placed our judgment on the shoulders of His Son (John 3:16). Thank Him that when we asked for salvation, our past and future sins were covered by the blood of Jesus. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you look at others, even those you don’t like, through the lens of Jesus’ grace. Ask Him to heal you of judgmental-ness and fill you with a discerning spirit that seeks to pray for others more than judge them.

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