Tough questions and Bible answers: Sound Judgement

Tough questions and Bible answers: Sound Judgement

 As we look back at 2022, anyone would agree that our world faces any number of difficulties and problems.  As we look ahead to 2023 we might ask:  “Do we have the answers to the tough questions that face us?”

I’d like to say that God has answers to every issue, question and problem.  With this in mind, I’d like to begin a short series entitled:  “Tough Questions and Bible answers.”  As we tackle “Tough Questions and Bible Answers” several preparatory statements need to be made.

First, this article is based on the conviction that the Bible is God’s inerrant word.  Second, we study the Bible because it provides the framework or guideline for living and thinking.  Third, we need to carefully investigate and interpret what the Bible says.  The Bible is an ancient document written in a culture that was radically different from today.  Having said that, the Bible was inspired by God so that it could be understood by people of all cultures and all times.

Let me share an observation, it is not uncommon for people to say:  “The Bible tells us that we must not pass judgment or make judgments.”  Perhaps someone is referring to the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus says in Matthew 7:1>>“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”

Often in today’s culture, this verse is used to support the idea that no one can say that another person’s ideas are wrong or misguided.  Before I ask, “What is the Bible really teaching in this verse”, let me explain what most folks who make this statement are attempting to accomplish.

We live in a culture that attempts to say there is no such thing as absolute truth.  By the way, such an assertion is an attempt at defining absolute truth.  But the question remains, “is there such a thing as absolute truth?”  Are there “rights” and “wrongs”?  The answer is yes.  The idea that there is an absolute right and wrong flies in the face of today’s cultural relativism.  “Cultural Relativism” says that moral and ethical systems vary from culture to culture (which is true) and that each value system is equally valid (which is not true).  Cultural Relativism says that no one system is any better than the other (again, not true).  What matters is how one feels, whether a person is sincere or not.  Due to the limited time and space of this article we cannot completely explain the flaws of Cultural Relativism.  Let it be said that a society that embraces the notion there is no ultimate “right” or “wrong” loses the ability to make any judgments at all.

Regarding the making of judgments, this takes us back to the words of Jesus in Matthew 7.  Does the Bible not want us to make wise decisions of judgments?  Of course not.  The Bible repeatedly tells us to act, live and think wisely.  Scripture warns us that decisions and actions have consequences.  God has given mankind the ability to think and reason.  Therefore, God wants us to have sound judgment and use sound judgment.

What Jesus is speaking of in Matthew 7 is that we must not set ourselves up as the one who passes final judgment regarding the value of someone else.  Jesus is telling us not to condemn others and declare them as irretrievably guilty.  In other words, God is the final judge, we are not.  This was an incredibly important idea when you look at the culture and people that Jesus was dealing with.  The culture of Jesus day operated with the concept that there were some people who were redeemable and others who were not.  This was seen specifically in the way the Jews saw themselves as inherently better than the Gentiles (non-Jews).  By the way, the Romans were just as dismissive of the Jews.  Jesus warns his listeners that final Judgment lies in the hands of God.  Jesus went on to encourage people to love and forgive one another.  Our task is to be wise in following God’s guidelines and requirements.  We must trust in God to make the ultimate and final decisions.

To sum up, the warning of Jesus was for people (then and now) to make wise and gracious judgments.  Living life requires that we make judgments and choices.  The question is whether we will defer to God.  Will we trust that God is wise enough to determine what is right or wrong?  Will we have faith that the God who created this universe has the wisdom to tell us, his creation, how to live?  Keep looking up.

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