Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Perception Today...Judging

Hello friends!  I hope everybody had a wonderful Independence Day weekend!  (If you don't live in the States and you happen to be reading this, then I hope you still had a wonderful weekend and start of your week!).  It's been several days since my last post, so I thought it was about time I wrote another.  I was actually hoping to do a "Portrait" post, but my plan to get that portrait over the weekend fell through, so it will have to wait.

Since I don't have a portrait post lined up yet, today's perception is all about judging.  As most people now know, Casey Anthony was found "not guilty" yesterday of abusing and murdering her young daughter Caylee.  This case and trial has been a rather emotional one for many people, and while it may not have been as big as the OJ Simpson case of the 1990s, I'd say it was close.  My thoughts on the verdict in the first part of the post and then judging in the second, after the jump.  (Longer post today)

First off, I should say that I have not followed this case in detail.  I have occasionally  read updates on the trial on CNN and I learned of the verdict yesterday.  I don't know all of the evidence presented, nor do I know a lot about law.  Personally, I feel that Casey probably murdered Caylee, however, I think that the jury made the right decision given the evidence that was presented to them.  While I feel that Casey is guilty, I cannot unequivocally say that she is guilty.  You see, in order to really prove somebody guilty of a crime, you must show how the evidence could point to only one conclusion, that the accused committed the crime in the manner and time in which you say the crime was committed. 

You must prove guilt "beyond reasonable doubt".  If there is even a possibility that something else could have happened, then you cannot find a person guilty, because there is the possibility that they are not guilty.  This is what the defense did.  They were able to show the jury a scenario in which Caylee died not from pre-meditated murder, but from an accident, and that the accident was then foolishly covered up.  The scenario, according to the jury, still fit in with the evidence that the prosecution presented, meaning that the defense's scenario could possibly have happened.  The defense introduced doubt into the prosecution's argument.  Because they were able to do that successfully, I think that the jury made the right choice given the evidence.  The case showed that Casey was a horrible mother (not caring enough to report her daughter missing even after nearly a month), but being a horrible mother does not prove that she did in fact plan to kill Caylee and then followed through with that plan.

All that being said, I will now say this:  If Casey actually is guilty of murdering Caylee, and she was able to escape a conviction because the prosecution simply was not able to come up with sufficient evidence to prove it in court, I believe that she will not ultimately get away with it.  I believe that God is a just God, and that He will judge Casey, if she is guilty, in His own timing, in His own way.  God is the judge of all.  I do not know how He will handle it, but I have faith that He will do what is right, by His own standards, not our own.

Many in the media for a long time now have already judged Casey to be guilty, and continue to do so, even though she was fairly acquitted in a court of law. If you look at comments on Facebook, CNN and Yahoo news, you will see many where people have called Casey obscene names, and wished horrible things upon her.  I must say that I do not condone name calling such as that.  I have also seen in some of the comments, people, who, while not necessarily coming to Casey's defense, have said similar things to what I said above, and also have touted out a Biblical saying, "Judge not, lest ye be judged."  Seeing all the stories on Casey Anthony, and reading a few of the comments, and seeing Biblical passages like that got me thinking about judging, and what the Bible really means when it speaks about not judging another, so I thought I would look at that in the second part of this blog post.

The phrase "judge not, lest ye be judged" is very often pulled out by Christian and non-Christian alike.  It is often times used in instances when a person feels they are being judged for having a different religious stance on some matter than another person, or they behave in a matter that is different from the norm, or if they feel another person is being critical of them on some matter.  It is a phrase that is also often cited by non-Christians to tell Christians that they shouldn't be judging others (namely non-Christians) for their disbelief or actions if they don't line up with what a Christian thinks the Bible says.  What does the Bible actually say though?

The phrase above is taken from a passage found in the seventh chapter of Matthew.  Let's look at the whole passage, in context.

1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
   3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (taken from the NIV)

At first look, this passage does seem to be telling us not to judge (vs. 1).  It goes on to say that we will be judged in the same way, and with the same rules and punishment we used to judge the other (vs. 2).  The people that go beyond verse 1, usually stop after verse 2, and many of those that do read further, often will fail to see the meaning of the passage on the whole.  What kind of judging is this passage actually speaking of?  I think verse 5 makes it pretty clear.  It is speaking of hypocritical judgement.  In other words, don't judge and criticize a person of a sin when you yourself are guilty of the same sin.  For example, have you ever yelled at somebody for being tardy when you yourself are often running late?  Or, let's say you have a child that is prone to telling lies.  How can you really teach that child that lying is wrong and correct that behavior if they were to see you lying often?  You can't help a person fix their own issue until you have fixed the issue in yourself first (vs. 5). 

This leads me to my next point.  This passage does not condone judging for judging's sake.  The underlying idea is still to help your fellow man out.  "...and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."  We are to exhort, encourage, and lift up our brothers and sisters in Christ, building one another up.  Proverbs 27:17 says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another."  How is iron sharpened?  Rough edges are smoothed out, burs are removed, and bits are removed or reshaped to leave a sharp edge.  These rough bits are burs are like the sins in your life, they have to be removed in order to leave a sharp edge.  One way this is done is through the help of another person.  If somebody sins, the Bible says we are to approach that person about their sin.  Matthew 18:15 says, "If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over."   We have "judged" that the person is in the wrong, that they have committed a sin.  Again though, the whole reason is to bring the person into repentance, to help them, not to judge them just for the sake of judging them.

What is judging but determining if a person is in the right or in the wrong?  Is there any precedent to show that judging in and of itself is not wrong?  Yes there is.  Take a look at the ministry of Jesus.  In Matthew 12, Jesus speaks to some Pharisees.  Now, one thing to keep in mind about the Pharisees, they would often follow Jesus, and try to lay verbal traps for him, to get him to say something that went against the Law from their scriptures.  They felt that Jesus was upsetting the status quo, and they were bound in legalistic Judaism.  Look at what Jesus says to them in Matthew 12:34.  "You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. "  Jesus has here judged that the Pharisees are evil.  They speak out against the son of God, favoring instead the legalities of "The Law".  Many parts of the New Testament are actually letters written to various churches to correct them on some matter of wrong doing or bad doctrine.  The apostles "judged" that they were in the wrong, and sent them a letter so that they might see the error of their ways, and turn back to faith in Christ.  Also, in Matthew 7:15, it Jesus says, "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves."  In order to beware of false prophets and teachers, we must be able to tell who a false teacher is.  To do that, we must test them, or judge them if you will, against what the Bible says. 

See also what Jesus says in John 7:24.  "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” (from the NKJV)  Jesus is here saying to indeed judge, but don't lose sight of the greater meaning.  Jesus is imploring the Pharisees here to judge with righteous judgement.  It's not that you judge, but how you judge.  Are you judging with righteous judgement?  In other words, are you discerning between right and wrong in order to help your brother, to build him up, or to discern if a teaching is wise to follow?  Or are you judging to cast chastisement?  Are you judging somebody in a matter that you have overcome in your life, which could help to show them how what they are doing could be destructive?  Or are you judging somebody on a matter that you yourself still fall prey too over and over, in which case the Bible says you will be judged in the same manner that you judge.  Remember, the idea is not to put down the other person, but to build them up.

Finally, we should remember that there is only One who is a truly just judge.  Only God is capable of judging in a completely just way all of the time.  Remember too, that without the sacrifice of Christ, we would all be found guilty by this judge.  There is not one of us that can say we are completely innocent.  The Bible makes that clear in Romans 3:23.  "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."  No matter what a person has done, they are no more and no less in need of a Savior than you were. 

Heavy and lengthy topic for today, but I couldn't really condense it much without being able to get the idea across, and there is more that could be said.  With that, I wish you a wonderful and happy day, free from unrighteous judgement!

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Joe! And well thought-out. The Bible is very clear about what judgment means where we are concerned, and yet many people do not look deep enough to see the truth. And many use the "excuse" of being able to judge merely as a means to heavily criticize others. That is a mean-spirited reason to be "judging" another person and I cannot see any reason it should be condoned! Righteous judgment is the way! :) --Rachel