Christianity needs a philosophy of decision making. Perhaps that is too weak. Maybe it should be a Theology of discernment. But whatever you do, don’t call it a doctrine of judging. A lot of Christians already have this, and personally I think they have it wrong.
“Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. For with the judgment you use, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye? Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Don’t give what is holy to dogs or toss your pearls before pigs, or they will trample them with their feet, turn, and tear you to pieces.” Matthew 7:1-6 (HCSB)
Those who have a doctrine of judging will often quote the first verse of this passage. Because of the one verse they decide Christians are never to judge others. I believe another aspect of this false doctrine comes from the fact the world often accuses the church of judgmental practices.
This passage in one light is telling us not to make hypocritical judgments, which would be judgmental. But we Christians, when we counter a problem such as this, we tend to swing too far in the other direction. The common doctrine of judging is to make no decision at all in regards to other people.
For example, I am told by some when a person comes to the church asking for financial assistance I should always give it, rather than making a decision whether this is the right opportunity to assist. I reject this idea for two reasons, first it leaves God out of the process. I expect God to lead me. I am His servant, not a servant of circumstances.
The second objection is, if I help everyone I will be helping some of them harm themselves. We live in a valley with several life destroying traps people fall into—gambling, meth, alcohol, and pornography are the most obvious. Very often the person asking for assistance got into trouble because they were pouring their life into one of these addictions. I hold no delusions about refusing to fund them being enough intervention to stop their freefall, but I also refuse to give them a push on the way down.
Instead of having a strict rule to never make judgments about others, we need to find a middle line. A rule which allows us to avoid being judgmental but also allows us not to be dupes. The easiest way to accomplish this is to read the rest of the paragraph, along with the first verse.
Notice the teaching toward the end about dogs and pigs. In order to keep this instruction you will have to make some decision about the person. The statements about the speck and log can also help you to know how to make the decision. I would phrase it this way, make no judgment on others you cannot pass. God will judge you in the same way you judge others, so make sure you use judgments you can pass. The key word is hypocrisy.
So here are my conclusions, and my philosophy of decision making.
Believers should not put judgments on others in terms of a label they are forever stuck with, because we have been forgiven of our sins which could just as easily have become our labels. Christians are not to judge the behavior of others when we are doing the same things, God promises to stop dealing gracefully with our sin if we fail to deal gracefully with other peoples. People of God should make decisions about resources, when they would be used wisely, such as removing a log, and when they would be wasted, such as casting pearls before swine.