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Judgment, Discernment, & God, oh my!

judge2 150x150 Judgment, Discernment, & God, oh my!Judgment vs. discernment are currently being discussed on Woodland Hills Church discussion forum, The Bridge. I haven’t fully flushed out this post, but the points are worth reviewing. I, or rather my actions, are in need of correction. Greg Boyd really clears up the difficulties in discerning between the two.

Some notes from the Greg Boyd’s audio message below.

– See a person’s inherit worth in God.

– Using discernment while ascribing unsurpassable worth to a person, it creates compassion. Those negatives around them would create compassion.

– Judgment tends to evoke a feeling of revulsion. It’s evil. It is never helpful, except to the person who is doing the judging by increasing their worth by lowering the other’s. But it tends to lock the people into the image for which you are judging them. Judgment turns the discerned qualities which could need correction into judgments about the person’s character or heart.

John 12:47     “As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.

Paul – I don’t even judge myself. I don’t trust myself. I listen to what God says about me. See 1 Corinthians 4:3-4

1 Cor 5:12 -13     What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”

From Greg Boyd on the thread.

There is a slight semantic distinction between diaskino and diakrisis in Greek, the latter having more a sense of discernment while the former having more a sense of judgment. But often even diakrino has a positive connotation (eg. Ac. 15:9, I Cor. 4:7; 11:29). The root of both terms means to separate, and I think the crucial distinction concerns WHAT we separate.

When we separate things — like helpful behavior from harmful behavior — this is not only permissible, but necessary and good. In fact, to do this well is a sign of maturity (Hebrews 5:13). I would translate this as discernment. When we separate ourselves from others in order to contrast ourselves with them, however, this is judgment. This is evil, for it keeps us from fulfilling the most important commandment, which is to love others unconditionally, as we are loved (Ephesians 5:1-2). In Repenting of Religion, I argue that judgment is eating “from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” and is the most fundamental and most damaging form of idolatry there is. Sadly, it is a common feature of religion — including the Christian religion — to do this, and to do this in God’s name.

In close knit communities where people have invited others into their lives, or when people have invited a leader to exercise some authority over their lives (such as Paul’s role to his congregations), there’s an appropriate place for discernment — confronting behaviors and attitudes that may not be godly. This is what the New Testament means by encouraging one another, speaking the truth to one another, and holding one another accountable. This is not only consistent with love, but is required by love. But outside this context, I believe our only job regarding others is to agree with God that they have unsurpassable worth and to bless them.

Greg

Related sermon from Greg Boyd, mp3. A must listen. And some points from Greg below.

– It is always appropriate to love, to ascribe unsurpassable worth to them.

– It is never appropriate to judge, to draw conclusions about someone that are negative. To play like you are God and to act like you know what you don’t know. (This is when we go past discernment into making judgment about character.)

– It is some times appropriate to express discernment. God needs to lead us. If you don’t have a relationship with the person, and the person has not invited you into their life, and if you don’t intend to act on their behalf with your discernment for their benefit, you have no need or responsible to express your discernment to the person. You don’t even need to harbor the discernment. Just let it go. Simply bless and love the person.

Everything we do has a purpose. What is the purpose of holding discernment for which we are not going to act upon? You think about it. You chew on it. What is the purpose? What function does it serve. You are not going to let it go and you are not helping the other person with it. If you are introspective about the purpose it serves, it is serving the flesh. You’re feeding of it. You are walking around with an opinion in your mind. You are distinguishing yourself from them and feeling righteous about it. You are developing an anger towards them. It’s not appropriate. Let it go. You’re judging them. And if you discuss the topic with others, you are gossiping. This is dangerous stuff.

Again, the only time it is okay to harbor and express discernment is if you have a relationship with the person, if they have invited you in and their is something you are going to do with it for the benefit of that person.

99.9% of the people we come into contact with, we are to simply love. Discern and let it go. Only if you are asked for input, invited in or are within relationship with the person, this would only be a small number of people, do we peak the truth to one another in love.

This is a good point to review the article, The Humble Sinner will be Exalted.

1 Comment

  1. As soon as I noticed this site I went on reddit to share some of the love with them.

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