Luke 12:54-56 says,
“Then He also said to the multitudes, “Whenever you see a cloud rising out of the west, immediately you say, ‘A shower is coming’; and so it is. And when you see the south wind blow, you say, ‘There will be hot weather’; and there is. Hypocrites! You can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how is it you do not discern this time?”
Question: What is discernment?
Answer: it’s the ability to make a judgment call based on the evidence observed.
When you look up into the sky and see dark clouds coming your way, what do you conclude is about to happen? A storm. If you come to an intersection in the road and see a T-bone car accident, what do you suppose happened? Someone probably drove through a red light. In both of these cases, we have just made a judgment call. Now, granted, sometimes we are wrong in our judgment. Sometimes the clouds may part and the storm avoids us. In rare cases, there could have been a car malfunction that caused the driver to go through the red light and cause an accident. But in most cases, we can make decent judgment calls in life. And that’s what Luke 12 is saying here. He’s speaking to an audience too timid to discern the times they were living in. Imagine if a person with a record full of DUIs leading to car accidents kept being given his license and keys back to him. What kind of discernment is that? Objectively, that’s pretty bad. “You can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how is it you don’t discern this time?”
Oh, how applicable this passage is to today.
“Thou Shalt Not Judge!”
Today, Christians are scared of the word, “judge”. It’s treated like a curse word. “You do you, and I’ll do me too”. Such a disappointing phrase to hear coming from the mouth of a Christian. Did Christ not call us to strive towards truth? Absolutely! And how do we determine what is true? Judgment! Discernment!
But I’ll admit, we must distinguish between the two different ways judgment is described in the Bible. Luke 6:37-42 says,
“Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” And He spoke a parable to them: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye.”
The first kind of judgment is condemning and hypocritical. When the blind attempts to lead the blind, having planks in their eyes, all will be led to stumble and fall. The blind with the plank in their eye has no ability to see clearly a speck in another’s eye. And often, the person with the perceived spec is wrongly judged by the one with planks in their eyes. Proper judgment is often misconceived as sinful and wrong. Like I said, to many Christians today, judgment of any kind is demonized. People desire to be right more than they desire what is right. Jesus had something to say regarding this. John 7:24 says,
“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgments.”
I believe that many Christians have good intentions, but lack the confidence to follow through with their convictions. I am very guilty of that. Standing up for what is right is very challenging at times. “Rocking the boat”, as some may call it, often causes those inside the boat to get some bumps and bruises. It may even cause you to look mean and judgmental if it means standing up to a fellow believer who has been demonstrating sinful behavior. Often, Christians hold unity above truth as if we are better off with lies that keep things comfortable and “running a usual”. But unity is not meant to be sought out at the expense of truth! We need righteous judgment to sharpen each other as iron sharpens iron! Jesus tells us to judge righteous judgments. We must keep each other checked so that we don’t grow a heart of pride and arrogance. An unchecked heart will begin to grow in arrogance, thinking it can get away with anything, feeling as if it doesn’t need to be held accountable to anyone. That’s the beams. The beams in one’s eyes are arrogance. To the proud, even righteous judgment will be taken with offense. With a finger to the face, it says, “how dare you judge me like this!”. To the proud, the truth is too hard a pill to swallow. 1 Corinthians 6:5-8 says,
“I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers! Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!”
I’ll let scripture speak for itself. Who’s to judge? Its not “who”, but “how”. Judge with righteous judgement. Judge according to the truth of God’s Word.