The answer is Yes. “What?” you say completely flabbergasted. Let’s work on it.
The Bible says in I Timothy 2 that women should not be adorned in costly clothing. We know that the prohibition of braided hair and the types of clothing came from the societal norms of the time being that those so clothed were identified as prostitutes, but the prohibition of costly clothing is not tied to any time or place. Why is there a prohibition of costly clothing, and a more important question is how do we know if the clothing is costly so we can warn our brother or sister in Christ to avoid sin? It seems to me that there must be a judgment of how things look on the exterior, in fact, it is necessary because clothes ARE on the exterior. So, essentially yes, we must judge others from an outward appearance, but I must delve into that much more further down. At this point, it’s just for shock value.
It is things like this in the Bible that bother me about wealthy Christians. I must repeat that I have no problem with wealthy Christians, it is how they spend that wealth that gives me pause. I also must remember that in a worldwide sense, I am quite wealthy. No, I don’t have loads of expendable cash, nor do I drive a brand new car (now.) But I do eat when I want to, and generally what I want to, and I have a home that is heated, and a car that works, wear clothes that are warm and fit, and am in no present danger of starving to death or dying of dehydration or cold or disease. In a world wide sense, I am quite wealthy. But for now, lets take a Biblical look at judging.
The classic verse on judging, now quoted perhaps more often than John 3:16 is Matthew 7:1. “Judge not, that you be not judged.” I’ve heard this more often that not to excuse aberrant behavior. I have personally witnessed persons of the attitude that this verse gave them license to do whatever they want. But we must remember to never read a Bible verse, anything less than a chapter on either side of the verse in question is asking for trouble. Jesus says that you should take the plank out of your own eye before you look for the speck in someone else’s. What he is condemning is hypocritical judging which is naturally the kind that rears its ugly head so often because Christians are imperfect. But we must see the end of the story as it is in context. Jesus says “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.” That’s right, once your vision is clear, then you must seek to right your brother.
Judging, in the correct sense, is a caring loving Christian brother or sister noticing a problem in the life of someone they care about. These are not simple little petty accusations about what someone says or wears, but sin that cannot hide. The person I mentioned above was the leader of a Christian band that I was a part of, but he was also into porn. Now I’m not saying here that I was a good kid and rebuked him for his sin, and I am also not saying that I had the same sin so I kept quiet to avoid hypocrisy. Either of these would be acceptable, though the latter tends toward apathy and is technically more true. The situation should be remedied in a “brothers struggling with the same sin” kind of way. The truth is, I just kept quiet.
We know the very familiar story of the woman caught in adultery. John 8:7 says: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” This is another often quoted verse regarding judging. But again, if we look at the verse in the proper context, a different meaning emerges. The last verse of this passage says: “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” Jesus judged her. He judged her guilty. The accusation leveled against her was legitimate. But Jesus, as we should be in our judgment, sought not to condemn or sentence the offender with some punishment, but rather to lift the person out of their shackles of sin and set them free to a new life. He said “go and from now on, sin no more.” His forgiveness was the pinnacle of the story, but he commanded her to stop what she was doing and change her ways.
To see something that is wrong, as we are called to do, we must make judgments. We must look upon the exterior (the actions, the words, the fruit) to discern sin. But unlike the hypocritical judge, we must not condemn the person, we must look upon them with love and exhort them to change their ways. However, we must first judge ourselves to see if we are afflicted by the same sin so as not to fall into hypocrisy. We must not judge perceived motives or any other aspect of the person that we cannot with our own eyes see. Remember, God looks upon the heart and for us to take on God’s responsibility is for us to attempt to supplant him, which is blasphemy. Judging in the correct context is not sin, but blasphemy always is.
Ok, back to wealthy Christians. I guess the over arching problem I have is the disparity between those who have and those who do not. I just got back from
I guess my conclusion is that I can’t see spending that much on a car when my Christian brothers and sisters the world over are suffering. The hypocrite test question is the obvious one, what I am I doing right that I should point out the wrongs of others. I don’t know because I don’t read their bank account statements. That’s why it bothers me. Could I live simpler? I am sure I could, but I already to as best I can. I have a house that is smaller than American average and bills likewise, cars too. And I have these smaller things by choice because I believe it is better for the world if I don’t live to my limit. Better if I don’t spend all my money just because I have it. But it still bothers me that what I have is so nice even though it is in many ways below average.
I think that Jesus was here to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.