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 the deer had decided to take the day off when I suddenly saw movement to my right by the creek bed.

I wasn’t surprised to see a buck, but I was surprised by his antlers’ size.  The usual bucks seen 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 I’d 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), and he was borderline legal.  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 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’d 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 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 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.  The third picture revealed he had more than a 13-inch inside spread, to my dismay.  I could have legally taken him.

One of the chief criticisms of Christians by unbelievers is we’re judgmental.  Unbelievers say we should live and let live and not judge them.  And they’re right – Christians should never put themselves in God’s place and judge those who don’t 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.”  We are often far more tolerant of our sins than other people’s sins.  Such behavior is hypocritical, and our hypocrisy is always more evident to others than to ourselves.  We might be able to ignore our sin, but others see it.

An example of such hypocrisy was King David’s reaction to the Prophet Nathan’s report of a man who stole and killed another man’s lamb.  David angrily condemned the offender but was blind to the fact Nathan was equating David’s adultery with Bathsheba and his arrangement to have Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, killed in battle. (See 2 Samuel Chapter 11.)  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 also crystal clear that his disciples are 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 didn’t command his disciples to approve or accept every sin or lifestyle.  In John 8:2-11, the teachers of the law and Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery to Jesus at the temple and said, “‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women.  Now what do you say?”’ (Verses 4 – 5.)  Jesus replied, “‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”’ (Verse 7.)  Eventually, all would-be executioners left, and only Jesus was left with the woman.  Jesus asked her, “‘Woman, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?”  “No one, sir,” she said.  “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared.  “Go now and leave your life of sin.”’ (Verses 10-11.)

In John 7:24 (NASB), Jesus 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:

  • “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 2:4.)
  • “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 3:10.)
  • “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 4:1-3a.)
  • “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.” (1 John 4:20.)

In a nutshell, we assess those who claim to be believers by determining if they obey God, do what’s 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 Satan is always trying to lead believers astray, and what better way to do so than to use wolves in sheep’s clothing.  His use of the word “anyone” warns us even people who claim to be believers 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 or body of believers pretending to be Christians and supposedly befriend Christians.  But their motives are wicked.  In many cases, they persuade their victims to get involved in risky financial schemes.  They take their money and then leave them holding fake documents.  These predators succeed because they know many Christians trust their fellow believers and won’t assess them.

So what do we do if we determine 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.  But before we judge/assess, we must first confess our sin to God and ask him to give us discernment to make righteous judgments.

The buck

The buck

Categories : Devotionals

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The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverse mouth I hate.