Discipline Vs. Judgment

by Neil Anderson

September 30

Galatians 6:1 
Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness
Are there any occasions when Christians should confront each other on matters of behavior? Yes. We are required by God to confront and restore those who have clearly violated the boundaries of Scripture (Matthew 18:15, 16). But let me alert you to an important distinction in this area: Discipline is an issue of confronting observed behavior–that which you have personally witnessed (Galatians 6:1); judgment is an issue of character. We are instructed to confront others concerning sins we have observed, but we are not allowed to judge their character (Matthew 7:1; Romans 14:13). Disciplining is our responsibility; judging character is God’s responsibility.
For example, imagine that you just caught your child telling a lie. “You’re a liar,” you say to him. That’s judgment, an attack on his character. But if you say, “Son, you just told a lie,” that’s discipline. You’re holding him accountable based on an observed behavior.
Or let’s say that a Christian friend admits to you that he cheated on his income tax return. If you confront him as a thief, you are judging his character and that’s not your responsibility. You can only confront him on the basis of what you see: “By cheating on your taxes, you are stealing from the government and that’s wrong.”
Much of what we call discipline is nothing less than character assassination. We say to our disobedient child: “You’re a bad boy.” We say to a failing Christian brother or sister: “You’re not a good Christian.” Such statements don’t correct or edify; they tear down character and convey disapproval for the person as well as his problem. Your child is not a liar; he’s a child of God who has told a lie. Your Christian friend is not a thief; he’s a child of God who has taken something which doesn’t belong to him. We must hold people accountable for their behavior, but we are never allowed to denigrate their character.
Prayer: Forgive me, Father, for judging others. Enable me to discipline in love those I care about and for whom I am responsible.
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2 replies

  1. Reblogged this on Thee Bloomin Idiot and commented:
    Recently I began to get involved in a process known as “Discovery”, finding the positives in people with complex needs and then providing a profile to assist them in obtaining meaningful employment.
    As I’ve entered into this area of service I’ve learned about the power of words, in a way I’d never thought. Speaking in regards to the individual as who they are first and not as what issues they are dealing with. For instance, seeing Bobby as:
    “You know Bobby, the boy with autism.”
    as opposed to:
    “You know, the autistic, boy, Bobby.”
    There is a big difference. I see this post in the same light, and I’m saddened that I’ve referred to my own children as “liars”, instead of just pointing out that they just lied.
    Because they aren’t “liars”, they are wonderful kids, that told a lie. That isn’t good and it needs corrected, but it doesn’t define who they are. I am not all the things I’ve done wrong over my life, either. Neither are you. We are Creations of the Almighty, and we were created in His image. Oh and sometimes (way more often than we should) we do things that are wrong, let’s call it what it is….. We Sin. Still we are God’s creation and He loves us so much that He paid the ultimate price for all of us!
    Christian brothers and sisters need to build each other up, and calling a sin committed a sin, when confronting the brother or sister is appropriate. Calling the brother or sister a sinner is not. God has made them righteous because of their faith, they are no longer a sinner, but an adopted child of God!
    He has thrown that sin, to the bottom of the sea, or as far as east is from the west!
    Address the sin, don’t judge the individual that sinned.
    Iron sharpens Iron! Sharpen each other with iron. Don’t attempt to sharpen our brothers and sisters spiritually by dulling each other with a judgemental stoning!

Luke 21:36 "Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man."

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