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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Love Without Judgement?

There's a lot of talk going around these days, even in the so-called Christian camp, about how we shouldn't judge: quoting Matthew 7:1, the argument goes something like this; 'the Bible says we shouldn't judge others, because if we do, we'll be judged'. Well, that's not quite true! First of all, we need to remember that Jesus spoke these words to a certain people, at a certain time, in a certain place. .Jesus told His first-century listeners ( Jews, mostly ) that when they judged others for not keeping the Law, they condemned themselves, for though they may have kept the letter of the Law, like circumcision, cleanliness & tithing, they ignored the weightier matters, 'justice and mercy and faith' ( Matthew 23:23 ). Jesus' words in Matthew 7:1 do not say that we shouldn't judge, only that we should be prepared to be judged in the same manner that we do judge!

'Unconditional Love' has been the topic of many conversations lately, as well. 'If only people could just love one another without judging each other', might be a representative statement. One might well ask, 'is it possible to love without judgement?' Many would immediately respond with, 'YES, just love; Love is all that matters!'.  Love IS all that matters, but then we must define Love; 'what IS Love?' A better question might be, 'Who is Love?!' According to I John 4:8, 'God is love'. If one follows the Law of God then, according to the apostle Paul ( Romans 13:10 ), one has loved another.

Some might say that hate is the opposite of love. Although there may seem to be some truth to this, nothing could be further from the truth! In this day & age, love seems to be defined more as a feeling than anything else; I love _______', or 'I hate ________'. Of course, these feelings may change & the one that was 'loved' one day may be 'hated' the next! The object of true ( holy ) hatred is not a certain person, though they are definitely on the wrong, or receiving end, but rather, it is the actions of any given person that should inspire hatred. If one is doing wrong, especially since that wrong will, at some point, come back to bite them in the ass, it is not unloving to tell them so. Not to tell them so, in other words, not to warn them, would in fact be unloving.

Biblical, or holy hatred is aimed more at ones actions, rather than at the person themselves; Jesus showed this when He congregated with those the Jews called sinners, more than He did with, say, the Pharisees, the religious ruling class. According to John 8:1-12, Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery for this very reason. The Pharisees sought to condemn her, or rather force Jesus to condemn her, but Jesus knew they were guilty of the same crime.

The phrase, 'hate the sin, not the sinner' is thus true; while we should deplore sin in whatever form it appears, rather than hating the wrongdoer & furthering the wrong, we should lovingly alert that one to his or her crime, warning them of the consequences to come. If they will not listen to us & continue in their particular crime, then we have done what is required of us, to love our neighbor as ourselves but if they do listen & cease their unlawful actions, then, according to Scripture ( Matthew 18:15-17 ) we have gained a brother or sister.

As it is impossible to love without some sort of judgement, so it is impossible to have a right or holy hatred without just judgement. In order to love rightly, one must judge for themselves, first of all, what it truly means to love. After they have determined what love truly is, then they must judge how best to show that love. Thus with a holy hatred; one must determine what is the true object of that hatred before one can truly & rightly hate. Scripture teaches us that a true & righteous hatred is reserved for that which the Creator God loathes, nothing else!

To love unconditionally does not then, mean to love with judgement! To go around, as some do, telling everyone you love them is one thing, but to act on that statement is another. It's fine to tell someone you love them, but unless we show them that love by acting according to the Laws of Nature & Nature's God, our words are less than useless. Love without judgement is no love at all, for even in determining not to judge, one has made a judgement & unless one determines to love another, he or she may as well have murdered them!

Judgement is a funny thing; like a two-edged sword, it cuts both ways! Judgement can be for good or evil, right or wrong. To judge rightly, whether in matters of love or hate, one must have a true, biblical understanding of both. To have a holy hatred, one must understand what the Creator God hates & why. To rightly & truly love, as well, one must know what it means to love. If we would like to be judged in the same way we judge others, then we'd better make sure ours is a righteous judgement!

Charles Haddon Shank

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