Can Judgmentalism be Loving?

All this talk about judgmentalism being bad can make a person over-react and avoid anything that could possibly be seen as judgmental.  As I said in my post on Grace and Judgmentalism there are situations where being judgmental is necessary.  Actually that is a bad word because today the idea of becoming judgmental makes people think about being closed-minded, disrespectful, and controlling.  And of course they think about this for good reason, because in a number of cases that’s exactly what judgmentalism has become!

So I will use the word confrontation instead of being judgmental.  Other than just sounding better, it is actually closer to what I view as the original meaning of judging.  In it’s simplest form this refers to pointing out a weakness, sin, or other characteristic that can harm someone.  Originally it is done in a spirit of humility and love.  It is when we add the anger, emotion, and a closed-minded philosophy that the word begins to mean something else entirely.

Jesus Himself illustrates confrontation for us in John chapters three and four.  I use these chapters because it shows the relationship that our Lord had with the unsaved in a very clear way.  Of course most of us know that John three shares a conversation that Jesus had with the Nicodemus, and the John four dealt with the woman at the well.

In both of these stories we see Jesus showing love and acceptance to the unsaved person (particularly the woman at the well).  Nicodemus although he had failed to clearly understand that Jesus was actually the Son of God instead of just another teacher, received love from the Lord.  He could have responded harshly to this ignorance from a religious leader who should have known better.  But instead Christ shared with Nicodemus his need to be born again (John 3:3).

The story of the woman at the well shows this love in an even greater way.  Jesus while waiting for His disciples is approached by a woman who He asked for a drink of water.  By doing this Jesus was breaking through three different cultural barriers at the same time!  First of all He as a Jew was speaking to Samaritan which never happened.  And He also spoke to a woman, which in those days was strange because men and women didn’t  converse with each other much.  Then finally He took the initiative to speak with this woman who lived her life in shame (which is why she cam to the well at such a strange time).

We do see love here, but what about confrontation?  Jesus was actually judgmental (confrontational) when dealing with both of these individuals.  He rebuked Nicodemus for not realizing what He meant by being born again (John 3:10) and pointed out the woman’s having five husbands as well as living with another man (John 4:16-18).

Now look at those confrontations of Jesus.  He isn’t angry or hostile towards them.  In fact you can sense a great deal of sarcasm in His rebuke of Nicodemus.  But while these judgments were in love they still made an impact.  The woman after being confronted by Jesus suddenly wants to change the subject and start talking about a controversial issue of where people worship (John 4:19-20).  And I am sure that His rebuke of Nicodemus led to conviction.

For me this is the original meaning of the word judgmental.  We don’t overlook sin or act like it isn’t there.  Any sin or weakness is directly confronted, but in a spirit of Love.  Yes there are times when we need to be judgmental, but it is important that we start practicing that discipline in its original form.

Because of Who He is,

John Wilburn

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John Wilburn

Church planter, teacher, and disciple-maker in Barrouallie St. Vincent

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