Empowering young Australians to be a clear Christian voice
The quote can be interpreted to mean: love someone for who they are, don’t write them off in negative judgments that you’ve probably come to through false conclusions. Love is more important than judging.
But it doesn’t actually say that loving is more important than judging. This quote can lead people to commit the logical fallacy known as a false dilemma– concluding that we have to choose one or the other, that we can’t do both.
Is it true that we can’t judge and love at the same time? No, it’s not!
We can actually love and judge at the same time. It simply isn’t true that judging takes up all our time so that we have no time to love. In fact, we often have to judge before we can love someone.
What I mean is, we have to discern things about a person before we can know how to love them like they need to be loved. The problem is that we have a negative view of judging when it is actually quite necessary. We sometimes don’t realise that we do it all the time.
For example, in discussing a sensitive topic we need to judge how a person has reacted to our comments so we can continue the conversation in a loving way. If someone is upset by what we’ve said, it may be wise to change tack.
Sometimes we need to love and judge at the same time. As Christians we are actually told to judge our brothers and sisters in Christ and to rebuke them when they go astray (1 Corinthians 5:12-13, Luke 17:3). This is in reality a loving thing to do for them; to tell them the truth and ensure that they aren’t in danger of giving up their salvation.
James tells believers “If one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19-20). It is also a loving thing to do for other Christians to help remind them what living lives worthy of the Gospel (Philippians 1:27) should look like and ensure that they also don’t go astray.
Do you know fellow Christians who love you enough to rebuke you when you “wander from the truth”? Do you love your Christian brothers and sisters enough to value their salvation more than your discomfort at rebuking them?
The better we become at discerning, the better equipped we are to love.