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What the Bible says about Diakrino
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Matthew 7:1

Some cite Matthew 7:1 as proof that we should do no judging whatsoever: "Judge not, that you be not judged." Here, the Greek word for "judge" is krino, meaning to condemn, avenge, sentence, or levy a punishment. Christ plainly says that if we condemn others, we will be condemned ourselves. Dangerous territory indeed!

Though it is certainly hazardous to evaluate the problems or sins of others, the context answers the question of whether we are to do so. We are to judge and in every aspect of life, as other scriptures show. Christ continues His thought, in context, by showing that we are to evaluate the deeds of others, but to be very careful with our judgments. We should consider our weaknesses and sins very carefully, to the point of overcoming them, before we make harsh judgments on others. How can we condemn someone else when we may have even bigger problems? He instructs us to remove the hypocrisy and then we can help our brother with his difficulties.

Focusing on the Greek to show that "condemning" defines judgment better than "justice" really makes no difference. The sense of the context is proper evaluation of our own and others' conduct so that proper justice is done. If we wish to use a harsher definition, such as condemnation or damnation, then Christ is saying He will also evaluate us in that light. Major or minor infraction, light or harsh judgment, the outcome is the same: "As you do unto others, so shall it be done unto you!"

Christ's initial statement about judgment cannot be ripped out of context to stand on its own. We must understand it considering His whole explanation, which includes recognition of others' sins and their disposition, but only after overcoming our own faults.

Otherwise, Matthew 7:1 directly contradicts John 7:24 where He uses the same Greek words: "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge [krino] with righteous judgment." Here He says we are to judge, but He mitigates it with instruction on how to judge, just as in Matthew 7. Certainly, we are to analyze—judge—what is right or wrong, based on the mind of God as expressed in His Word. How we apply that judgment to others is critical, for Christ will take the same attitude with us that we take with others.

Like it or not, life forces us to make judgments or decisions about people every day. These may deal with mundane physical things or with friendships or marriages that affect a lifetime. Many have gone through life wishing they had been equipped early in life to render and exercise sounder judgments, for the process of making good calls can be very confusing. It is so easy to dwell on the wrong factors or see only what is on the surface.

Staff
The Weightier Matters (Part 2): Judgment

1 Corinthians 12:7-11

Reading through this list, we may think, “I don't have any of these!” Quite frankly, we may have seen few of these actually exercised over our years attending the church. We may have never even seen a miracle or a healing with our own eyes or heard anyone get prophecy right, at least not yet. How about the word of wisdom or the word of knowledge? We may have witnessed a little more of those than we realize, not being “tuned in” enough to recognize it!

What about the gift of discernment, or as it reads in the passage, “discerning of spirits”? The New Testament in Modern English by J.B. Phillips paraphrases Paul's expression as “the ability to discriminate in spiritual matters.” This latter phrasing seems to be a more precise expression of what Paul means—not just the ability to detect evil spirits but to distinguish between the spiritually positive and negative.

Dictionaries like Wikipedia define discernment as

the ability to obtain sharp perceptions or to judge well. In the case of judgment, discernment can be psychological, moral, or aesthetic in nature. . . . Christian spiritual discernment can be separated from other types of discernment because every decision is to be made in accordance with God's will. The fundamental definition for Christian discernment is a decision making process in which an individual makes a discovery that can lead to future action.

This description of discernment emphasizes making correct decisions that proceed to wise actions.

Of the verb form (diakrino, Strong's #1252) of the word Paul uses in I Corinthians 12:10, Strong's Concordance comments, “to separate thoroughly, i.e. (literally and reflexively) to withdraw from, or (by implication) oppose; figuratively, to discriminate (by implication, decide), . . . contend, . . ., discern, doubt, judge, be partial, stagger, waver.” Discerning is a matter of separating, discriminating, evaluating, and judging, and once done, a person either approves or opposes the subject of his discernment.

In our society, words like “discriminate” and “judge” are considered almost taboo, but the truth is that we must make judgments all the time. What would be the point of discernment if it does not lead to a judgment? In Solomon's prayer before God in I Kings 3:9, he asks for discernment between good and evil so he could judge God's people. God, pleased with both the humility and good sense of his prayer, rewarded Solomon immensely.

Ronny H. Graham
The Gift of Discernment and Godly Love


 




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