Judgmentalism: Equating Opinions with Truth
My DNA group has been going through the book Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges. Every chapter has been convicting and helpful for us so far. Last week we were in the chapter on judgmentalism. I found this chapter so helpful and Bridges seemed to expose some ways Christ's precious people often treat one another. He argues that judgmentalism begins when "we equate our opinions with truth (Bridges, 137)." Think about that for a minute. Some of the most abrasive people for me to be around are those who make grey areas black and white. For example, have you ever had a conversation where a brother or sister in the church who makes it seem like being a Republican is synonymous with Christianity? Or the person who believes their view of the end-times is absolutely correct and everyone else who disagrees probably is not a believer? Maybe it is something as simple as the opinions of those who eat a specific way and look down on others who don't eat the same way.
As familiar as we all are with the difficulty of being around those who make their opinions to be absolute truth, I wonder how many of us have done the same thing?
The truth is, we have probably offended others with our opinions as well.
Bridges says, "My point here is that it doesn't matter which side of an issue we are on. It is easy to become judgmental toward anyone whose opinions are different from ours. And then we hide our judgmentalism under the cloak of Christian conviction (Bridges, 140)." Ouch!
This is nothing new to the church. In Romans 14, there were people in the church who were trying to bind people's consciences to a certain way of eating or keeping certain days as holy. The vegetarians were looking down on the meat-eaters and those keeping Jewish holidays were looking down on the Gentiles who did not observe those days. I would encourage you to read all of Romans 14, but Paul gets to the core of the issue when he says, "I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do you not destroy the one for whom Christ died (Romans 14:14-15)."
Paul is telling the church in Rome, and us as well, that we have to be careful with our opinions. Of course, it is good to discuss these things in love, but the second you try to bind another person's conscience to something that is not clear in the Word, we can actually destroy them. Imagine someone being argued into your opinion and believing it out of pressure rather than the Word of God. Paul says to that person who is swayed by the opinion of another, "But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin (Romans 14:23)."
Bridges pushes a bit more when he says, "If I'm correct, then the seriousness of the sin of judgmentalism is not so much that I judge my brother as that in doing so, I assume the role of God (Bridges, 141)." None of us have the rights to assume the role of God, and yet, we have all tried, haven't we? So what should we do? The first step is to look to Christ. Paul says in Romans 15:3, "For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, 'The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me." This is stunning because Jesus had every right to enforce his opinions on us, and he would be right every time. But rather than do that, he endured the hurt that all of our forceful opinions have caused. He was willing to give up his opinion and freedom to be nailed to a cross. And His objective conclusion was, "It is Finished!"
Kaleo Church, let's be a people who have our own opinions but enjoy the diversity of others.
Let's include others the way Christ included us. And when we differ, let us be a people who are quick to remember how different than Christ we were when he came to us: "For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person--though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die--but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:6-8)."