For example, I’ve seen many people “confess” to something and then add, “Don’t judge.” “I enjoy beans on toast: don’t judge.” “I have never read Pride and Prejudice : don’t judge.” To judge something–or worse, someone –has taken on the meaning of condemnation.
Now, literally speaking, that isn’t what the word means. According to Webster’s dictionary, to judge means to form an opinion about through careful weighing of evidence and testing of premises or to determine or pronounce after inquiry or deliberation.
It is this definition that we should keep in mind when we read Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 2:15. “But he who is spiritual judges all things… ”
Paul isn’t telling us that the Christian goes around condemning everything. Not at all! Instead, he is telling us that we, as Christians, must look at everything with an examining attitude and an inquiring mind. We must hold the choices we encounter up to what we know of Christ and evaluate them.
I think that this goes beyond deciding between good and bad, though we certainly must do that. We must indeed ask, “Is this something that I, as a Christian, should spend time on?” But we must also ask, “Is this the best thing I could be doing?” Being Christian and having Godly goals means that we must use our time carefully and with intention. There are all kinds of choices that aren’t bad but that are not the best use of our time and resources.
An example from my life would be the changes brought on by my going to school. Having looked at the situation, we decided that it was important for me to pursue my degree. Therefore, I have a lot of work that must be done week-to-week. That means that all other activities are evaluated in light of that necessary work. The schoolwork is a priority, because it must get done. Sometimes, it means that other things must be ignored and not pursued.
In the same way, our Christian vocation is a light by which to evaluate everything around us. It allows us to ask, “Is this good? Is this bad? Is this something that I have time for? Is this something that is worth my time?” Paul does not tell us to condemn everything; instead, he tells us to use our understanding of God’s laws to make judgments about the world around us.