“Good judgment comes from experience and a lot of that comes from bad judgment,” once quipped the American humorist Will Rogers.
In the midst of this current crisis, our President’s judgment is being questioned for opening up the country too quickly. Ironically, he was criticized, after the fact, for being too slow to shut it down. State Governors and local elected officials are charged with the task of implementing guidelines for their states and counties. Many are protesting their judgments.
During this same time pastors, preachers and church leaders have been called on to exercise judgment in regard to public assemblies. Most churches I know have opted not to meet during this present distress. Their judgment, and even their love for the Lord and courage to obey God, has been called into question by some.
It’s easy to second guess the decisions and actions others do. To be an arm chair quarterback. To judge from a distance without all the facts. Good judgment in such cases may call for us to keep our personal opinions to ourselves.
The fact is that life is filled with many judgments. Large and small. Regardless of who you are, there’s no escaping the challenge and responsibility of making judgments. Our lifestyle. How we spend our money. Who we help. And our application of Bible principles. All of these require the exercise of judgment.
The word, “judge,” writes W. E. Vine, “Primarily denotes to separate, to select, to choose, hence to determine, and so, to judge or to pronounce judgment.” It is simply the ability to distinguish the difference between various options when making a decision.
Good judgment is founded on facts and accurate information. It requires an exercise of discernment, perception, and knowledge. Judgment involves intuition. Reasoning. And prudence.
Not everything in life is clearly identified as black and white. Right and wrong. Good and bad. This is illustrated by Jesus’ admonishment in His mountain message.
“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.” (Matt7:6).
Jesus used the illustration of hogs and dogs to represent that which would be unclean to the Jews. Dogs were not domesticated pets but were scavenger mongrels that roamed the streets eating garbage. Of course, pigs were unclean animals under Jewish law.
Jesus is talking about people who have as much appreciation for God’s Word as would a pig for pearls or a dog for a good meal. It requires judgment to identify those who fall within that category.
Some people are not prospects for the gospel message. It’s a waste of time to try and teach someone who is intellectually dishonest, morally depraved, or arrogantly and unwillingly impervious to the Word of God. Sadly, some people’s hearts are hardened and their minds closed to the Truth.
Of course, it requires judgment on our part to know when to move on and “shake the dust off our feet” (Matt. 10:14). This requires insight, understanding, and wisdom. Every situation is different. Good judgment is required to exercise this command.
Back to our present distress. Opinions and judgments will vary on when to “return to normal.” There is a constant debate between public safety and the economic stability of our country. Unfortunately, these discussions are often politicized. And no doubt, politics enters into the decisions of our elected leaders.
Soon pastors and preachers will need to make a decision about resuming public worship assemblies. Shepherds in local churches may come to different conclusions based on the situation in their state or city.
When is it safe to assemble? Will there be children’s Bible classes? Will there be multiple assemblies? Will small groups meet? Should we shake hands? Hug? Sit close together? Maintain social distancing? Limit our personal interaction with each other?
All of this requires the exercise of judgment. Wisdom. Common sense. And spiritual discernment.
Christians would do well to pray for those in authority instead of condemning the judgments of those tasked with the welfare of those entrusted to their care.
Our attitudes, actions and words (and facebook posts) need to reflect the character of Christ. Love. Patience. Respect. Courtesy. And kindness. These qualities need to be manifest toward those making decisions. They will calm our anxieties. Reduce our frustrations. And allow our light to shine in a sin-darkened world.
Practicing self discipline, keeping our emotions in check, and “walking in wisdom” toward believers and unbelievers alike will help all of us during these difficult times.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman