Make a Right Judgment

Mazie of a Peek

We’re tackling this blog the old-fashioned way: sweating it out at the keyboard one keystroke at a time.

This is because for the first time in a long time, I’m sitting down to write with very little idea about what I’m going to say. Most of my writing these days has been voice to text while walking the dog, so in some ways, this is oddly satisfying.

When I finish, I get a piece of chocolate.

I’m not sure what you get for reading it, but I hope it’s equally satisfying.

Here is what I’ve been thinking about: Making a right judgment. And also: Jesus’ brothers.

While I have been thinking of these two things separately, I have not thought of them together until right now. Let’s see what happens.

Make a Right Judgment

I’ve had this snippet of a verse in my head for two days. This wording is from the NIV, and if you can place it, you are already ahead of me. In the end, I had to resort to google.

“Make a right judgment” is from John 7 when Jesus goes to the Feast of Tabernacles (you can learn more about this feast here).

As often happened when in a crowd, Jesus began to teach in the temple courts. The crowd held mixed opinions. Some were amazed at his teachings, while others said he deceived the people. Many were concerned that despite the wisdom of his teachings, he did not maintain the law God gave to Moses. In one egregious example, Jesus healed on the sabbath when the Law clearly dictated that no work was allowed.

Into this context Jesus declared, “If a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broke [boys were to be circumcised on the eighth day, which would necessitate a circumcision on the Sabbath if it fell as the eighth day], why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath? Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.”

Make a right judgment.

Hold that thought.

Colorful

Jesus’s Brothers

The connection to Jesus’ brothers is not as far a leap as I anticipated. They are also mentioned in John 7 as the ones encouraging Jesus to go up to the Feast and make himself a public figure. But the point I have been thinking about in relation to Jesus’ brothers is further afield, so hang on.

In my quest to understand some of our denominational differences, I have been researching the largely Catholic and Orthodox belief that Mary remained a virgin her entire life compared to the belief many Protestants hold that Mary was only a virgin until after Jesus was born. The mention of Jesus’ brothers (and sisters in other passages) is one common proofpoint that suggest Mary did not remain a virgin.

That would probably be the end of the discussion, except the word translated as brothers (adelphos) may also refer to other close relatives (cousins, nephews, half-brothers). There is also a later tradition that Joseph was widowed before marrying the Virgin Mary, so these siblings could be Jesus’ older stepbrothers by Joseph’s first wife rather than younger siblings.

This is just one snippet of a much larger discussion, but my point is not to argue for or against Mary’s perpetual virginity. My point is that there was a time I knew of only one perspective and didn’t even realize there was a discussion.

I am surprised – and shouldn’t be – when someone provides logical reasons for believing something different than I do.

New Perspectives

The more I study what different denomination believe and why, the deeper appreciation I have for our Christian faith. It is very easy in our silos to latch onto our understanding. We can easily misconstrue other’s beliefs as foolish or incomplete because we think we know what they believe.

This is not making a right judgment.

Bibles

Proverbs 18:17 states, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.”

I have noted before how engaging with different perspectives strengthens my own faith. There are many brilliant individuals who come to differing conclusions for a variety of reasons. I should not be too hasty to discount an idea simply because it is different from mine.

I think sometimes we can be afraid to hear new perspectives.

At least, I can be.

What if it shakes my faith? What if I hear something that gives me doubts about what I believe?

Caution

Let me balance this with a strong disclaimer.

I am not saying we should embrace every idea that comes along. Heresy is real. Deception is real. The devil is a liar and the father of lies, and it is easy to get confused if we hear too many contradictory messages. Jesus warned against falsities so powerful that even the elect (in their own power) could be deceived. The Bible warns us not to walk in the counsel of the wicked.

But if we do not ever engage other perspectives, how can we discern the depth and breadth of our own beliefs?

If we do not test the foundational understanding of our own faith, how can we defend against the deceptions that will come?

If there is any falsity in our existing beliefs, how will we ever uncover it?

A Call to Right Judgment

The Bereans were praised for their eagerness to examine a new idea and test the truth of it against the scriptures (Acts 17:11). We are called to do the same.

The Pharisees knew their law deeply, but they completely missed the fulfillment of that law in Jesus. I pray that I am never so focused on my own narrow beliefs that I miss God’s words coming to me from an unexpected source.

May God grant us the discernment needed to navigate the big, bold, beautiful faith He has given us.

God help me make a right judgment.

This post was first shared at inspireafire.com. Now it’s time for that piece of chocolate.

2 Comments

  1. Sally Gano Jones on May 24, 2024 at 10:48 am

    Thank you for this post, it’s very deep and I enjoyed it.

    When I was an undergraduate, I took courses in comparative religions for electives because I was curious what people of other faiths believed. I saw so many different beliefs among my fellow college students. That was very helpful to me when I was young & being tested in my own faith at the time. My faith grew stronger, and yet I also understood what people of other faiths believed and practiced, even if I did not agree with them.

    • Janet Beagle on June 9, 2024 at 8:45 pm

      Thank you for the comments, Sally. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, and I think it’s fantastic you were able to learn about other’s faith traditions. There is so much to learn.

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Meet Janet!

Janet Beagle, PhD is the founder of The Mustard Patch. She divides her time between the Midwest and New England, and if she’s not writing, she’s probably out hiking with her 2-and 4-footed friends.