There are two common expressions I hear from people used to defend a belief or action. In fact, most of us have probably encountered it, if not used it at one point in our life. For instance, your sibling is cheating on her husband and you tell her it is a sin and she needs to repent. What is the common response? “Stop judging me.”
The second common response I hear, “Well this is my experience and you cannot tell me I am wrong.” I have also heard, “The Lord told me in a dream the other night . . .”
Both statements, “do not judge me” and “my experience” are really defense mechanisms allowing the person to live as he or she chooses. The problem with both statements, aside from pride, is in reality, the person who makes either defense does not live by those standards. In other words, the moment either defense is levied the person has become a hypocrite.
First, does a person really believe it is wrong to question an experience? For the record, most of the time, we are not questioning the experience, we are questioning the interpretation of the experience. I have no doubt you had a dream. But I do doubt the Lord spoke to you in the dream because God speaks to us through His revealed Word (aka Scripture or the Bible).
Does this person really think it wrong to question interpretation of events? Probably not. Proof? He said their night together was consensual, she said it was rape. Should we investigate her claim? Who are we to tell him his experience is wrong? Obviously the act happened, but the interpretation of the act is up for debate. What if her definition of rape is wrong? What if he thinks no means yes? There is a standard of truth here, common definitions, and laws needing to be followed. Would the person who says, “Who are you to question my experience” really say, “We cannot charge him with rape because who are we to question his experience?”
Second, does a person accusing someone of being judgmental really live out this standard? No. To accuse someone of being judgmental is in fact a judgmental statement. The accusation requires, interpretation and charging someone with judgement.
Also, we make discerning judgments every day regarding people. If you know your sibling steals from purses, are you going to leave your purse, with money, out in the room while you go take a nap? No. Would we say, “How dare you, how judgmental?!?” No, most people would call this wisdom.
Would you leave your child with a child rape sex offender for babysitting? No. Does it mean you are condemning the sex offender? No, but to be wise, and even help him not stumble, you would leave your child with another person.
Both scenarios require making a judgment call regarding a person and acting on it. The church is commanded to make judgment calls.
There is a man in your church who shepherds, loves, and teaches people and he desires to be an elder. Do we just take him at his word? No, we must evaluate his life and determine if he meets the qualifications found in Scripture and determine if he is above reproach. We must judge him to see if he fits the qualifications.
This practice is standard in the work place too. Would you step onto a plane with a company who does not vet the pilots before flying? He says he is a pilot, therefore let him fly the passenger plane. No, if this happened CNN would have it printed on the front page! In fact, airline companies judge their employees to see if he or she qualifies as a pilot.
These are common scenarios and situations in everyday life proving both lines of evidence or defense faulty. The reality is we make judgement calls every day. We also question people’s experiences too. So why, when it comes to sin, truth, false teachers, and obedience do we use these lines of evidence? Probably because we are being defensive. In other words we manifest our pride.
Still not convinced? Let me ask one question. Which biblical line of truth do I need to consider? How do I follow all of these?
“Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” (Matthew 7:1)
“You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16, 20).
“Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses.” (1 Tim 5:19).
“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock of God . . . [why?] I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you,” (Acts 20:28-29)
Finally, Jesus tells us to judge Him according to His deeds, “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.” (John 10:37-38)