Disclaimer: I received this book from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.
Being a judgmental Christian is an all too common accusation in the twenty-first century. Christians are told they should not judge but love, or to not judge lest “you be judged.” However, there are times in Scripture where Jesus or the apostle’s say we must judge. We must make a righteous judgment. “You shall know them by their fruit” according to Jesus. Granted, this is about false prophets, not other Christians, or is it?
According to Erwin Lutzer in Who Are You to Judge? he argues that we must use the principle of judgment in many areas of the Christian life. To begin his book he tackles the reserved attitude of many Christians to make any sort of judgment and the oft quoted, “judge not lest you be judged” Scripture from the book of Matthew. In effect, he argues that we will eventually have to make some sort of judgment because of two principal questions we must ask ourselves: “What does God want us to believe and how does God want us to live?”
After these two initial chapters of “introduction to the premise of the text, Lutzer then tackles common “areas” of judgment from the Christian: doctrine, false prophets, miracles, entertainment, appearance, neopaganism, spirits, conduct, and character. Of these listed, the chapters I found most intriguing were doctrine, false prophets, appearance, conduct, and character. These are often the areas of life we judge most in others, and hopefully ourselves.
This is a timely book. We live in a world that wants to “live and let live.” As Lutzer says, “people are acting as if nothing matters to God.” However, there is the balance of truth with mercy. Lutzer is just as quick to admit that we are “too quick to judge and too short on mercy.” He is correct in this assessment. We cannot judge too quickly on any situation or anyone because we would not want the same done to us. On the other hand, as Lutzer argues in this book, we must at some point make a judgment. We cannot call sin for what it is without making a judgment of some sort. We cannot hold one another accountable in our own lives without asking others to make a judgment of our actions. Just remember when we do, “do so gently” and mercifully, but truthfully.
The Christian’s goal in this life is not the be the most judgmental, legalistic person to correct improper behavior. That should never be our goal because we cannot “correct” anything or anyone. That is the role of the Holy Spirit, to call us to holy and godly living. In this sanctifying process, we should be asking for discernment; for the gift of wisdom in all situations. We must also readily admit we will never be correct in everything we do or say. If we are to make any judgment at all (and we will have to at many points in our life) let us do so in wisdom and prayer.