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Sacrificing Accountability on the "Judge Not" Altar of Church Growth

By       Message Anthony Wade     Permalink
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"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. -- Matthew 7: 1-5 (ESV)

It seems that at least once per year I have to exegete the key verses because someone within Christian leadership misuses them completely. Outside of poor Malachi, perhaps there are no verses more misunderstood than these. If you asked Christians, I guess nine out of ten would say that Christians should never judge! Just read Matthew Seven, right? Wrong. What preacher? Are you saying Christians are supposed to judge? Within the church -- absolutely.

For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. "Purge the evil person from among you." -- 1Corinthians 5: 12-13 (ESV)

The modern church has it backwards. They spend the majority of their time judging people in the world. They claim some form of a moral high ground they do not possess and pretend that all the problems we have could be resolved if unbelievers would just behave better. These verses from Corinthians however make it abundantly clear that they are facing the judgment of God therefore we are not to judge them. It is those on the inside we are to judge but judgment has been smeared as a dirty word within Christian circles. That is probably rooted in confusing two different definitions of the word "judge." The first is what we all will face at the hand of our Creator. Final judgment is always the Lords beloved. No one is suggesting that person A is going to heaven and person B is going to hell other than militant Calvinists. The primary way the word judge is used however carries a different definition. According to it simply means to form and opinion or conclusion about something. There is no biblical admonition against doing such and in fact as Christians we are commanded to do such for each other. The answer to "am I my brother's keeper" is a resounding yes! People ask me often how I would feel if someone criticized my teachings and my answer is I would thank them! If I ever state something incorrectly or misuse a Scripture I would hope my brothers and sisters in Christ would hold me accountable for it because the truth is the only thing that matters. Not my delicate sensibilities. Wait a minute preacher! What about judge not lest ye be judged? As Paul Washer has said, "twist not Scripture lest ye be Satan." The "judge not" portion are seven words that start a brief teaching that lasts five verses. We cannot just look at the seven words and call it a day. Read the key verses very closely beloved and ask yourself what Jesus is really speaking against because it is NOT judgment. It is hypocrisy. The key is in verse five:

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. -- Matthew 7: 5 (ESV)

Does Jesus teach to leave the splinter in your brother's eye? In order for judge not to mean what people keep saying it means, that is what Jesus would need to say at the end but He does not. He says take the log out of your own eye and THEN help your brother with his splinter. A practical example is if you are in an unrepentant adulterous relationship then you should not be advising or judging your brother's adulterous relationship. If you have an unresolved anger issue or unforgiveness, you should not be judging your brother for the same. So it is not that you should not judge your brother but rather that you should not do so hypocritically. This squares with the aforementioned Corinthians verses as well as the countless admonishments against hypocrisy found throughout Scripture. Earlier this year, Carey Nieuwhof wrote an article entitled "Five Ways Judgmental Christians Are Killing Your Church." This can be found at the following link:

Nieuwhof is one of the modern day "church growth and leadership" gurus. He is raised and trained on the purpose driven model that aspires to build churches and not the kingdom. From the title alone you can see that his premise is flawed and his focus is skewed. The only thing that matters to him is the growth of your church. Wait a minute preacher? Shouldn't that be what leaders should be focused on? Not according to the Bible. God provides the growth for a church, not man. Not all church growth is good. Do you think 55,000 people show up each week to hear Joel Osteen preach because he preaches the uncompromised Gospel of Jesus Christ? Hardly. Mega churches fill up because the people hear what their itching ears want to hear. That God wants them rich. That they can be promised eternal life and embrace their carnal selves. When your sole focus is on growth then you will find yourself compromising more and more in order to grow and the worst thing is that when that growth comes you will view it as God's approval instead of His judgment. So let us reason together and review this article to gain a better insight into what judgment is and is not according to the Bible and to reveal the flaws within the purpose driven church growth mind:

Judged anyone lately? Sadly, the answer for most of us (including me) is" yes. From the guy who cut you off in traffic, to the off-beat person who's not picking up the social cues you're sending, to your weed-smoking neighbour" it's so easy to judge. And judgment just gets worse from there. It's the basis of racism, sexism and almost every other 'ism' you can think of. -- Carey Nieuwhof

This is a form of the logical fallacy known as illegitimate totality transfer. This assumes that all the uses for a word that occur at a given time apply in any given instance. Can you make an argument that judging is at the root of racism and sexism? Sure although I can make an argument there are far more culpable villains. But conceding that fact does not mean that every time judgment is noted it must relate back to these two negative uses. If you have a friend who smokes and you advise him to quit for all of the known health reasons you have indeed judged but is that negative? Of course not! That really cuts to the heart of the issue of judging. What is the motivation for it and how is it delivered? Nieuwhof here wants to establish a foundation that all judging is bad. He continues:

It's also fundamentally incompatible with authentic Christian faith. Jesus said Christians should be known for how deeply we love. Yet studies show that in the eyes of many non-Christians, we're known for how deeply we judge, not for how deeply we love. The problem in many cases is not that unchurched people don't know any Christians. The problem is that they do. And they don't like us--for good reason. -- Carey Nieuwhof

Say what? Judging is fundamentally incompatible with authentic Christian faith? Yeah that is absolutely nowhere in the Bible. I guess Jesus was wrong when He called the Pharisees whitewashed tombs and a brood of vipers. He was just being judgmental. Or how about when Paul called out Peter for being a hypocrite, which I may add forced Peter to realize his error. What about the key verses when Jesus says to help your brother with the splinter in his eye? No Carey. Authentic Christian faith is rooted in the truth. Jesus even stressed to not judge by mere appearances but rather with right judgment. The rest of this quote shows a disconnect for Mr. Nieuwhof between Scripture and application. The verse he casually references states that we will be known by our love for each other and then he goes on to speak to how we treat the unsaved. That verse has nothing to do with the unsaved. Now, the rest of his point is correct but he is not connecting that this is because of the church judging the lost. By painting with a broad brush he has lumped all judgment into the same basket. Remember too that his entire premise is that judgmental Christians are killing churches. That is utter nonsense. The presumption underlying this thinking is that a small church is somehow stagnant. If God gives a pastor 100 people and they all go to heaven he will hear well done my good and faithful servant. God gives the increase beloved -- not Carey Nieuwhof and his human wisdom. He continues:

But when you see grace and truth fused, it takes your breath away. Why did people travel for days on foot in extreme conditions to meet Jesus? Grace fused to truth is what our hearts most deeply long for. But in the evangelical church today (and I'm an evangelical), the hard edge of truth has crushed many. And one of the most frequent expressions of loveless truth is found in judgment. -- Carey Nieuwhof

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)

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