Judgment Call by Randy Rowley 10/22/10 ©


It was a slow morning.  The gray skies made the daylight late, and everything decided to sleep in.  Even the squirrels didn’t start chasing each other until a good hour after first light.  I was beginning to think that the deer had decided to take the day off when I suddenly saw movement to my right.

I wasn’t surprised that what walked by the creek bed was a buck, but I was surprised by his antlers’ size.  The usual bucks menu at this property includes spikes, four-pointers, and small sixes and eights, but this buck dwarfed them.  He had much taller antlers, with considerably more mass than any buck’s antlers that I had seen on the property.

But there was a problem.  The property is on the west side of Williamson County, which has antler restrictions (a legal buck must either have an inside spread of at least 13 inches or a spike on one side).  I had taken my 10X42 binoculars out of my backpack a couple of days before the hunt to make room for a raincoat.  I figured that I could easily tell if a buck was legal with my 8X rangefinder, but it wasn’t up to the task.  I snapped a picture with my 5X camera, but I couldn’t determine how wide his antlers were on my camera’s view screen, so I didn’t take the shot.

He bypassed my corn, walked another 50 yards, and then stopped.  He then made a U-turn and started to head towards where he had come in, but then stopped and looked at my pop-up blind.

I ranged him broadside at 48 yards.  He was on the edge of 00 buckshot range (the property is too small to hunt with rifles), but he had his ears back, so I still couldn’t tell if he was legal.  I took two more pictures of him.  In the second picture, he relaxed his ears, but I still couldn’t tell if his antlers were wider than his ears, which is a way to measure the width of a buck’s antlers from a distance – if the antlers are wider than a buck’s ears when they’re relaxed, he’s probably legal.

As I wasn’t sure if he was legal, I again let him walk away.  He eventually jumped the fence and vanished into the neighboring property.

When I got home, I enlarged the pictures with my computer.  To my dismay, the third picture revealed that he had more than a 13-inch inside spread.  I could have legally taken him.

One of the chief criticisms of Christians by unbelievers is that we are judgmental.  Unbelievers proclaim that we should live and let live and not judge them.  And they are right – Christians should never put themselves in God’s place and judge those who do not believe.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:1-5, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Jesus warned his listeners not to judge because God will judge them in the same manner they use to judge others.  He then reminded them that people are often far more tolerant of their sins than other people’s sins.  Such behavior is hypocritical, and our hypocrisy is always more evident to others than to ourselves.  We may be able to ignore the planks in our eyes, but others see them immediately.

An example of such hypocrisy was King David’s reaction to the Prophet Nathan’s account of a man who stole and killed another man’s lamb.  David angrily condemned the offender but was blind to the fact that Nathan used it to analogize David’s adultery with Bathsheba and his arrangement to have Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, killed in battle (see 2 Samuel Chapter 12).  David was quick to condemn a man who stole and killed another man’s lamb, but he was blind to his far more egregious sins.

Jesus was crystal clear that his disciples were to love others.  He said in Matthew 5:43-44b (NLT), “‘You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy.’  But I say, love your enemies!’”

However, Jesus absolutely, positively did not command his disciples to accept every lifestyle universally.  He said to his 12 disciples in Matthew 10:16, “‘I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.  Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.’”  Although Jesus commanded us to love others, he didn’t command us to approve of their sin.

Jesus didn’t have just one thing to say about judging.  In John 7:24 (NASB), he said, “‘Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.’”  In Matthew 7:16a (NLT), he said regarding false prophets, “You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act.”  In 1 Corinthians 5:12-13, Paul wrote, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?  Are you not to judge those inside?  God will judge those outside.  Expel the wicked man from among you.”  We are to judge/access the fruit of other people who claim to be Christians because just as worms rot apples, false Christians can rot churches and other bodies of believers.

John also had a lot to say to believers about evaluating those who claim to be children of God, including:

  • 1 John 2:4 says, “The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
  • 1 John 3:10 says, “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.”
  • 1 John 4:1-3a says, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.”
  • 1 John 4:20 says, “If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar.  For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”

In a nutshell, we assess those who claim to be believers by determining if they obey God, do what is right, acknowledge Jesus is the Son of God, and love their brothers.

1 John 3:7a says, “Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray.”  John knew that Satan is always attempting to lead believers astray, and what better way to do that than to use wolves in sheep’s clothing.  Notice his use of the word “anyone” warns us that people who claim to be believers also can lead us astray.

Statistically, Christians are deceived by those who prey on good people more often than any other group of people.  Unbelievers come into a church, pretend to be believers, and supposedly befriend Christians.  But their motives are wicked.  In many cases, they persuade their victims to get involved in things like risky financial schemes.  They take their money and then leave them holding fake documents.  These predators count on the fact that many Christians trust their fellow believers and do not assess them.

So what do we do if we determine that a believer has backslidden or stumbled?

  • Jesus said in Matthew 18:15-17, “‘If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.  But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’  If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.’”
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:11a says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.”
  • 2 Timothy 4:2 says, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.”
  • Titus 1:13b says, “Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith.”
  • Galatians 6:1 says, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.  But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.”

As hunters, we must evaluate animals in the field, and as Christians, we must judge/assess the fruit of people who claim to be Christians.  Before we judge, we must first get right with God, including asking him to give us discernment to make correct judgments.

The buck

The buck

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