Vol.XIX No.XII Pg.8
February 1983

Stuff About Things

Robert F. Turner

A class in Interpretation was told that the writer's character is often revealed by his product (do be charitable, dear Reader); and each student was given a "sample" to be used in writer analysis. One student wrote the following about an author:

"He was middle to upper middle family. Not upper class for their (sic) were definite lackage of fine textured language skills missing. He also seems to have went to a public school."

Note the critic's "fine textured language skills." He really done good!! I wonder how many of us realize we are revealing our own character in the process of criticizing our neighbor. Sometimes we take note of another's fault because we have the same problem — a "stuck-up" person "just can't stand" another who is equally (or more) "stuck-up." Nor is this necessarily a sign of hypocrisy. We may be blind to our own sin, yet see that sin in others. Nathan had to use a parable, letting David judge a like case in another, before David could be made to see himself. (2 Sam. 12).

This article is no indictment of "judging others." We all are forced to render judgments every day: choosing our friends, maintaining fellowships that are God-pleasing, fighting false doctrines, yes — and particularly in assisting those overtaken in a trespass (Gal. 6:1). It is not wrong to "judge righteous judgment" (Jn. 7:24), by an objective examination of fruits (Matt. 7:15-20). We know truth and/or error by comparison with that which inspiration has revealed (l Jn. 4:6). But we should remember that our use of this standard is contingent on our knowledge and judgment of both the standard and the situation.

We may reveal our own ignorance, or our arrogance, or our lack of concern for others, by the way we evaluate people and situations. Brethren in error may be driven deeper into darkness, and an unnecessary confrontation developed, by unethical and egotistical criticism. More, when these characteristics of the critic become apparent to the public, the brotherhood turns away in disgust and is deprived of the warning and truth that may be sorely needed. Judge with care, knowing the best of critics paints a self-portrait in the process.