The Thrill of the Kill

Lily Sloane had no difficulty speaking truth to power when she upbraided Jean-Luc Picard in the 1996 film, Star Trek: First Contact:

“Oh, come on, Captain. You’re not the first man to get a thrill out of murdering someone! I see it all the time.”

I have to take it on the word of others that there is such a thrill when murdering. That, and the fascination that young men seem to have with movies and video games which, I suppose, let them vicariously kill.

But I’m afraid I do understand the “thrill” part of the equation.

I’ve never been sure whether my martial-arts-trained friend and college roommate John Caplinger was joking, telling the truth, or both when he said that the best translation for one of the ninja attack shrieks is “I will only kill you a little.”

If you’ll forgive me for conflating the two concepts, I’m acquainted with the thrill of only killing a little. It’s what people do when they correct, criticize, belittle and berate others. Like Lily of the movie’s savage twenty-second century, I see it all the time.

I see it in the internet bulletin boards. In the chat rooms. In the comments of the blogs, and the blogs themselves. In the Facebook groups, open and closed. In the concise 140-character-or-less tweets of Twitter. Words meant to kill.

Just a little.

Oh, yes, I understand the thrill. Beating someone up verbally feels awesome. It makes you feel powerful because they’ve lost and you’ve won. It makes you feel right because they’re wrong. It makes you feel good because they’re evil. It makes you feel better than someone else, because after all, you are.

“Becauses” that are all bull-puckey, of course.

At their root is your judgment, and your judgment is just as flawed as theirs and it is just as flawed as mine. It is human. It is not perfect.

And no one should understand that better than a follower of Christ.

Which is why it should perplex me that I see it so unforgivably often in the bulletin boards, chat rooms, groups, comments and tweets of fellow believers. “Should,” I say. It “would,” if I had not experienced it myself so damnably many times.

I keep repenting of it. I don’t know how many times I have tried to blog my deepest intention to stop judging others, only to get sucked back into the festering muck of it again by some thrill-seeker in the comments of the very same post.

This week it has been with a few folks on a Facebook group who — to my way of perceiving it — want to justify doing what Jesus forbids in Matthew 7:1 and Luke 6:37 by trying to make the case that it is absolutely required to judge others in order to correct others, which is the loving thing to do. What they are called to do. I can’t even begin to comprehend the screwed-up priorities of that kind of thinking. It has called forth more patience in me than I have within to try to respond in kindness rather than in kind, until I finally ran out of it and had to quit before keying in something that Facebook’s Timeline might never let me forget.

(If there is one thing I have learned about folks who really like to argue, it’s that they feel they have won if they get the last word. If there is no response, then their arguments must be irrefutable, and therefore irrefutably right.)

My LIFE Group and I have spent several months studying Greg Boyd’s Repenting of Religion. He makes a strong case for the original sin of Eden being judgment: judgment of two people that God was not trustworthy; judgment that they should take matters into their own, more capable hands and eat the fruit and know for sure instead of having any more truck with this faith stuff.

Boyd builds on this premise of Dietrich Bonhoeffer to propose that the greater part of religion has long been and currently is little more than judgmentalism disguised as righteousness (which is really self-righteousness), rather than religion mirroring the love of God by (in his words) “ascribing unsurpassable worth to others.”

So I’ll just close this one with a question. I’ve already described above the number one reason I believe Christians immerse themselves into the unholy culture of judgment, criticism, abuse and condemnation of others: Self.

What do you believe contributes to it?

50 thoughts on “The Thrill of the Kill

  1. Hi Keith

    I really think I would have enjoyed being part of your study, would have been very interesting…I’m jealous

    I would concur with your answer ‘self’ or rather ‘SELF’ , self-righteousness in one form or another

    A couple random points……one of the things I get out of Scripture is to differentiate between Discernment & Judgement as in we are told to ‘discern’ the spirit but ‘judge’ the fruit and in the process of doing this, differentiate between what is fruit and what is seed and be aware of the time frame in-between.

    One thing I am finally learning to do in some of these so called “discussions” with others is to quickly determine whether my protagonist can him or herself differentiate between what fact and what is opinion and if they can’t, not to waste my time

    When I look back the big turning point in my life came as a result of me saying one morning to the image staring back at me in the mirror ” I have reached the point where I’d rather know the truth than be ‘right’ ” . I had no idea at the time what a door that was going to open


    • Hans, you’ve intuited (or read on Facebook!) some of the things I tried to discuss there.

      And Truth should always triumph over self-righteousness. Ultimately, He will — the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

      Thanks for dropping by.

  2. Jesus did condemn some judging, Matt 7:1-2. But He didn’t condemn ALL judging. John 7:24 we are to make righteous judgments, Matt 7:16-20 we are to judge a tree by its fruit. 1 Cor 6:2 ” “Do you not know that the Saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? We judge those who are within the church 1Cor 5:12. We make judgments to determine fables and faith 1 Timothy 1:3-4. Paul told the Corinthians in 6:5 ” I say this to your shame, is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren?” In 10:15 he said “I speak as to wise men, judge for yourselves what I say.” I cannot judge a mans heart, but I can judge what he says, if my judgment is based upon God’s word, it is a righteous judgment. If its based upon mans opinion it is an unrighteous judgment.

    • It’s kind of amazing to me, Jeff, that there are folks who can’t discern the difference between judging others (which is plainly forbidden) and, for instance, making a judgment between opponents so they don’t have to go to court, or between truth and lies, or for one’s self, or judging actions regarding whether they’re right or wrong.

      The judging in Matt 7:16-20 has to do with words and actions. Don’t follow the words and actions of people whose lives don’t bear fruit. We’re not judging them. We’re judging what they say and do — for ourselves. We’re not called to be the ones who cut them down and cast them into the fire; He is. He will judge all by what they say and do (Matthew 25; see also Luke 19:22). These verses (7:16-20) aren’t an exception to the opening verses of the chapter.

      1 Corinthians 6:2 is in future tense. It’s not for us now. It’s for those who reign with Christ (v.3; see also 2 Timothy 2:12; Rev. 20:4-6), not in this world, but in the world to come. And 6:5, of course, has to do with settling matters between brothers and sisters who disagree rather so that court action doesn’t have to take place (v.6). We need to display good judgment in this life as well as in the life to come.

      • kb, I believe the point of 1 Cor 6, is to keep your differances in house, don’t go to the hethens to settle your disputes. Is there not one wise man among you who can settle this? We judge one another based on God’s word, disputes in the church are to be settled based on His teachings not the world’s. Someone has to make a judgment. 1 Cor 6 Verse 3, ” Know ye not that we will judge angels (future) how much more things that pertain to this life.” (now)1 Timothy 6:3-5 sounds like we must make a judgment. 2 Thess 3:6 those who walk disorderly, withdraw from, Romans 16:17,18 disorderly members, those who cause division, Titus 3:10 false teachers and heretics, withdraw from, judgments must be made kb, judgments based on God’s word, righteous judgments. We are to receive them back IF they repent, 2 Cor 2:7. We are to admonish them as a brother, 2 Thess 3:14,15. Judgments. And kb, if you settle an argument between others, have you not made a judgment against one of them if not both? Again if it is based on God’s word, it would be a righteous judgment.

      • Jeff, you said: “We judge one another based on God’s word” and this is where you and I disagree most. We judge actions and words based on God’s word; not people.

        In the scenario of making a judgment between disagreeing siblings in Christ, we would be judging actions and words, not people.

        We have no authority to judge people. We have no instruction to judge people. We have no right to judge people.

        We are only to judge actions and words, as we will be judged.

        It’s the difference between telling your son he is a bad boy and telling him he is a good boy but a boy who did a bad thing. One destroys self-esteem and the other reinforces parental love.

      • kb, How else could I judge someone, if not their words or actions? Is this not what I have been saying. How many times have I said I can’t judge a man’s heart. I can only judge his words or actions. If his actions or words don’t mesh with God’s word a righteous judgment is made. Your “not people” comment, I’m not sure what you mean. If you mean judging people who I may deem look differant (color, clothes, hair etc., I would agree. Judging people by appearance is always wrong.

  3. Jeff, forgive my frustration. You said: “How else could I judge someone, if not their words or actions?”

    Missing the whole point. Our call is NOT NOT NOT to judge someone. It is to judge their words or actions — usually for ourselves — but NOT TO JUDGE THEM.

    I really, really, really don’t know how to make this any clearer.

    Let me go back to Matthew 7:1-2:

    “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.”

    Is there anything unclear about that? “Do not judge.”

    Let’s try Luke 6:37:

    ““Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

    Clear as can be to me.

    WE ARE NOT TO JUDGE OTHER PEOPLE. It doesn’t matter how much we enjoy it, or how good it makes us feel, or whether we think it’s the righteous thing to do. We are just to NOT DO IT.

    People who look different. People who act different. People who are different. People who sin. People who don’t sin. It doesn’t matter what kind of people.


    That is what I mean, and you can be sure of it, brother.

  4. kb, let me be clear, when I make a righteous judgment, a judgment based on God’s word, it is not I who is judging. It is God who is judging. It is His word that condemns us. I don’t have that power or authority. You stated earlier that you will not assume who is condemned or who isn’t. God’s word does that for us. We don’t have to assume anything, God has told us who is comdemned. It is my responsibility as a Christian to warn people of the wrath to come. To inform them that God has a plan to save them. Matt 7 and Luke 6 are refering to unrighteous judgments, judgments based on mans thinking. kb, what world do you live in? For example, if your wife stated to you, that she had another lover, would you make a judgment? If you have one too, but yet condemn her you would be quilty of the principles of Matt 7 and Luke 6. If however, you do not have one, you can and should make a righteous judgment. Informing her that this is not acceptable behavior and that it goes against God’s word. Or are you going to tell me that you will accept this from her and not “judge” her? ohmygoodness, such drama kb.

    • Jeff, you said, “… when I make a righteous judgment, a judgment based on God’s word, it is not I who is judging. It is God who is judging.”

      Do you really mean that? Because it would be so easy to slip from that into a point of view that all of one’s judgments are righteous, and therefore of God.

      Would I judge my wife if she had an affair? What we’re discussing is not what one would do, but what one should do. Let’s keep it to that, shall we?

      I should judge what she has done. If it’s wrong, I should be willing to consider forgiveness. If she asked, I should give it. Seventy times seven times. Should I love her less? Would I want her to love me less, if the situation were reversed? Would Jesus love me less?

      Our example is perfect. It is worth trying to emulate. “Do not judge.”

  5. Yes kb I really mean that. If you judge your wifes actions based on God’s word it is He who judges and it would be a righteous judgment on your part. Has not God given us instructions on how to live as Christians? Has He not condemned certain acts? You may say that you won’t judge your wife in this case, but you should. If you love her, you would tell her that God doesn’t accept such behavior, and her soul is in danger. You should inform her that she has broken a sacred trust and that her actions are contrary to God’s will. kb, you would not be wrong in judging her quilty. Your judgment would be based on the teachings of scripture. Are you going to just forgive her without her repentance? Your going to accept her behavior and accept her lover? I think not, your going to make a judgment. Jesus is our perfect example, but He always required man to “repent.” This brings us back to the issue, the gay issue. God has condemned it, if we love our fellow man, we will tell him that his lifestyle is contrary to scripture. For some reason to you this is judging. It is not judging, its a warning, the judgment has already been made. Those who practice such things will not enter the kingdom of God.

    • Where does scripture authorize me to represent God and judge a wayward wife in your scenario? Where does it say, “Never mind what I said about not judging people, you are absolutely entitled to play God and do so when ….”?

      You haven’t demonstrated that yet. (“Things that pertain to this life” are things, not people.)

      You haven’t demonstrated how judging people is permissible but judging only actions and words cannot be what’s meant by scripture.

      You haven’t demonstrated how some scriptures “trump” others just because we want to make them say it means “judging people” or “judging others” when the words “people” or “others” or “them” are not present in those scriptures.

      Is that the way you feel? That Jesus wasn’t serious when He said what I’ve pointed out in Matthew 7 and Luke 6? Do some of these scriptures give you an exception, an out, an excuse to judge other people when you feel it is appropriate?

      Or do you feel that He didn’t mean “people” when He said “Don’t judge,” clearly in a context of judging other people?

      Because I see the scriptures working in harmony with each other, inspired by one Spirit, intended by one Lord. When He says, “Don’t,” He means “Don’t.”

  6. 2 Timothy 4:2 ” Preach the word, be ready in season, and out of season, convince, REBUKE, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” 2 Thess 3:6 ” But we command you brethren, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he recieved from us.” Sounds like judgments must be made. Peter rebuked the sorcerer in Acts 13, John rebuked Herod in Luke 3, Paul rebuked the magistrates in Acts 16. Rebuke means to censure severly, to admonish or charge sharply, to make a judgment regarding their words or actions. 1 Timothy 5:20 ” Them that sin REBUKE before all, that others also may fear.” or matt 18:15, John 3:20, Eph 5:11, Titus 1:9,13. These examples are examples of righteous judgments. Jesus hates unrighteous judgments, He expects righteous judgments to be made by His children. Things that pertain to this life are things that people do and say. When He says rebuke, He means rebuke.

    • You still haven’t demonstrated any of those things I mentioned, brother. Or answered my questions about how to harmonize judging people with Matthew 7 and Luke 6.

      Will “sounds like to me” or “seems like to me” be sufficient defense if Jesus asks why you felt it was permissible to judge other people on the Day He judges us all?

      I haven’t argued that we shouldn’t try to correct others who sin; I hope you’ve noticed that. What I’m arguing is that it can be done without judging others. If Jesus did so in this world, then He set an example that we are to follow. If He said don’t do something, He doesn’t ask us to do impossible things.

      I’ve been trying for some time to correct some teachings that I believe are completely wrong-headed and wrong-hearted while blogging for almost eight years now. It is SO easy to fall into the trap of judging the people who hold them. But it’s still wrong. I try to be as loving as I can be – and frequently fail – but it’s the example of Christ on this earth that is the pattern for loving without judging. He lost His temper and said shocking things to religious hypocrites but never stopped loving and started judging. He took insults, spit, blows, thorns, stripes and nails but never stopped loving and started judging. I believe that has to be true because He does not ask us to do things He was not willing to do. If these Beatitude instructions are part of what He calls being perfect as the Father is perfect — and He Himself was perfect — then He obeyed His own instructions. He did not judge.

      Somehow, we have to learn to do that, too.

  7. OK you two, isn’t this just becoming question of semantics, from my point view it sounds you are both trying to say the same thing but using slightly different words and then compounding it with applying slightly differing interpretation of what the other is trying to say while trying to split hairs

    Listen with your hearts instead your heads…………come on smile

    • I don’t think it’s semantics, Hans. I don’t mean to single out Jeff; he’s only doing what most of us do: adding a word like “others” when reading the word “judge” in scripture written by Paul about correcting others. We’re not permitted to do that.

      See his response below. He speaks about judgment in the first part of his response, and cannot make a distinction between judging right and wrong and judging someone else.

      That’s not semantics. It’s the object of the verb, and is therefore grammar. : )

      But it’s also serious discipleship, and we’ve got to learn how to make that distinction in order to follow Christ and be more effective in telling His Story.

  8. kb, I have answered Matt 7 and Luke 6 several times. How can I, we rebuke someone, without making a judgment? How can we withdraw from those who walk disorderly without making a judgment? What must our judgment be based on? Answer, God’s word. If it is, its a righteous judgment, its a judgment God calls for. Please explain, how can you correct someone and not be making a judgment? If you correct them have you not made a judgment regarding right and wrong? The question then is, is it my opinion that its wrong or is it God’s? If its Gods, its a righteous judgment. Did Jesus sin in your mind when He said “shocking things” Did He sin when He judged the Pharasees in Matt 23? or did He make a righteous judgment based upon what God the Father had told Him? So what I get from you is, lets not “Judge anyone” lets love them and let them pay the price at the Final Judgment. I would rather warn them, make a righteous judgment about their lives and out of love correct them, so they can make an informed choice for themselves. And kb, you haven’t agrued that we should correct those who have sinned. You have argued the opposite. Only in the most recent posts have you done so. In post 13 you said, ” where does scripture authorize me to represent God and judge a wayward wife? We as Christians are stewards of His word on earth, remember 2 Tim 4:2. Kb, if you don’t make a judgment concerning your wife and she does not repent, she is hell bound. If you really love her, won’t you say something? Won’t you try to correct her? Won’t you make a righteous judgment and save her? If nobody does, she will be lost for all eternity. Everyone judges, the question is what kind of judgments are we making? Righteous ones or unrighteous ones.

    • It’s a righteous judgment, Jeff, if it discerns between right and wrong. It is an unrighteous judgment if it decides that a person is good or bad; if it changes the way you feel about them and causes you to love them less or stop loving them at all.

      When you say, “So what I get from you is, lets not “Judge anyone” lets love them and let them pay the price at the Final Judgment” you’ve read something into what I’ve said — I have not said that, in this post or in any other.

      If you judge a person — rather than the person’s actions or words — the way you view them; the degree to which you are willing to love them changes. They’re not good like you anymore; they’re bad. You begin to feel that you have God’s own authority to do so and your heart begins to crave the thrill of the kill.

      If you judge words and actions, leaving the person out of it, you are free to continue loving them as Christ loves. You can correct them in humility and grace — and probably in tears. A different, more effective approach. It requires a different heart; the heart of Christ.

  9. kb, how can I judge actions and words and leave the person who said it out of it? Are we not told to love our enemies?Enemies who may be vile in every way?By their fruits, we will know them. What people say, what people do are who they are. The person and their actions cannot be separated. I must love them regardless of who they are, thats the hard part. True biblical love is to love enough to show them the correct way, making judgments that will help them.

    • True biblical love is to love enough to show them the correct way, making judgments that will help them.

      And here I thought true biblical love was laying down your life… sacrificing everything you have… loving the unworthy… praying, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do…”

      Jeff, how popular does your version of “true biblical love” make you among the people who loved Jesus the most? How popular does it make you among those who opposed him the most? Somewhere among the answers to those two questions should be some important information about true biblical love.

    • I think Genesis 3:7 and Romans 7:8-12 help put it in perspective. We all, like Cain and Paul, are in some ways pursued and victimized by sin.

      Heard the expression, “Hate the sin; love the sinner?” It’s like that; we judge the sin (whether acts & words are wrong) but leave judging the person to the Lord – at the proper time (1 Cor. 4:5).

      How do we leave the person out of it? We have to find a way, and I think it’s vital to remain loving, supportive and humble.

      No one took me up on suggestions for how to do that in a previous post, so let me make a few:

      “It’s been said that you (said or did something). Is that true? The only reason I’m asking is – not to judge you – but because I care for your soul. If it’s true, something is coming between you and God.”

      “You know I love you, brother. And when I see or hear you (doing or saying this sin), I see it killing you a little bit more each time. And it’s killing me to see it.”

      “I struggle with (the same sin; or a similar one), sis. I know (or “I can only imagine”) it’s hard to deal with. But I’ll make you a deal. I’ll pray for you and you can pray for me.”

      “I know when people say, ‘Don’t judge me,’ what they really mean is ‘Don’t stop loving me.’ At least, I do! Please trust me: That ain’t a-gonna happen. I am not going to stop loving you. And even if I have a stroke and stop being me and start saying hateful things, God will never stop loving you. His mercies never end.”

  10. kb, good examples of a righteous judgment, in each case you precieved that something was wrong. You made an attempt to get them on the right road. You made a judgement. I hope you would also see that repentance was in order as well, if these were Christians. If they are not would you tell them about Jesus. Would you explain to them who He is, and why He came and offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice. Would you explain to them that because all men have fallen short of the glory of God, that He came to reconcile man to God? Would you explain that there is something that they can do to over come the sin in there life? Prayer is important, but did you ever stop to think that maybe God put you there at that time, to be the one to speak on His behalf? To show them the way, to answer that question that they ask, What must I do. If the Christian won’t tell people that sin is a problem, and that there is a better way, who will? Are we not commanded to preach the word, to be ready in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering. 2 Timothy 4:2. True love will cause us to teach the lost what they must do, in order to be saved, to cause the erring to come home. Is there a nack for doing this out of love? yes there is. Will people be offended by the gospel message, yes they will, but preach we must. I guess we could say nothing, just love them and pray they come to their senses before its to late.

    • one other thing, question? When Jesus, on the cross said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Did God forgive them at that point? answer NO. It was not until Peter preached the first gospel message in Acts 2. Where they were judged guilty of His murder. They recieved the words of Peter, they believed what Peter said. They asked that question, whay must we do? Peter’s reply, repent and be baptized for the remission of your sins. Those who believed Peter did so and the Lord added to THE CHURCH those who were being saved. A heart cannot be pricked until it is convicted.

      • Jeff: “When Jesus, on the cross said, ‘Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ Did God forgive them at that point? answer NO.”

        How do you know this?

        Where in scripture does it say this?

        Matthew 9:2ff … Mark 2:5ff … Luke 5:20ff all seem to indicate that Jesus could forgive sins whenever He desired; and one must assume that God can, too.

  11. “therefore, let all the house of Iseael assuredly know that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucufied both Lord and Savior.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter, and the rest of the Apostles, “men and brethren what shall we do? Then Peter said to them, repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins.” Act 2: 36,37,38.

  12. Yes, but where does it say God didn’t forgive them until then? What about the ones that went on home between Passover and Pentecost?

    My point is, you can’t know these things you assert when scripture doesn’t specifically say them. You’re drawing conclusions. If you’re drawing conclusions, you should be able to defend and explain them.

    I don’t believe we can categorically state that God did not forgive any of them until Pentecost. We don’t know that.

    Why is that important?

    Because God is sovereign. He can forgive whom He wishes. He can include the details of an account or not as He wishes.

    It’s not wise to draw conclusions that tie God’s hands or say “He didn’t” or “He doesn’t” or “He won’t” or “He can’t” unless scripture specifically says so.

    (I’ve tried to point this out to Laymond with regard to the interrelationship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit — but he’s made his mind up and nothing scripture says will persuade him otherwise.)

  13. kb, we either accept and believe Acts 2: 36-38 or we don’t. Why would Peter, who had the power to discern mens hearts, not know that they had already been saved? Those that went home were lost in their sins, until they obeyed the gospel. We can’t categorically say that He did either. All we have to go by is what the scripture reveals to us. According to Peter they were lost, he preached, judged them guily, they believed and obeyed and had their sins forgiven. I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel. Gal 1:6

    • Jeff … Peter “judged them guil(t)y”? He did? I missed that verse, too. Where do you get this stuff?

      Did he have to judge them at all to know what they had done was wrong?

      I know that somehow, I am not making myself clear to you about this, but I’ve run out of ways to explain it.

      Either you don’t yet understand, you are unable to understand, or you don’t want to understand.

      So I think I’m done here in the comments.

  14. Verse 36, “whom you crucified” sounds like a guilty verdict and a judgement by Peter. And it was a righteous judgment because it was true. No kb, I think I understand you perfectly.

  15. (I’ve tried to point this out to Laymond with regard to the interrelationship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit — but he’s made his mind up and nothing scripture says will persuade him otherwise.)

    Oh yes it would, just show me where God is referred to as “a trinity” in scripture.
    I can and have shown you where scripture says God is the one and only, with no one beside him.- now who is being stubborn?

  16. Since this all seems to revolve around ‘what does the bible actually say or not say’ I would be curious as to everyone’s take on Luke 19 regarding the question ” What kind of man was Zacchaeus ?”

    Any takers…

      • Seriously, was he an upstanding citizen righteous before the law, or a crook shaking down kids for their lunch money as I have heard preached from the pulpit ?

      • He was rich tax collector who had a bad repretation, one who when he meet Jesus was willing to “repent” restore to those whom he had defrauded. He was a crook.

  17. I would say that he was an honorable, righteous and generous man who just happened to be in a dishonorable, or despised profession. The word tells us that the crowd “grumbled” or “murmured” or ” complained ” that he was a sinner, where in scripture is there an example of a crowd or a group being in the right when they grumbled or murmured about something and didn’t get slapped for it.

    Was prosperity not a promise in the law for obeying , perhaps Zaccheaus took his honest earnings, invested them wisely and was tremendously blessed because of his generosity, most translations have the wording “See, Lord I give….” the tense is present and inclusive of the past, and all the translations I’ve come across have in the next part the word ” IF ” as in ” if I have taken…..” as opposed to ‘ that which I have taken’ which is how it should read if he was actually guilty and genuinely confessing.

    Could the point of the story not perhaps be that it is the one example of a blessed, well to do, righteous man, who didn’t but his faith in his righteousness or wealth, but in the promise to come , which is why Jesus referred to him as the son of Abraham.

    Or in today’s world a way of saying that the successful business man, born and raised in a Christian home, who serves on the church board of elders, still needs that personal encounter with Jesus

  18. Forgive me for interjecting on the “judgement” issue. Might I use a simple analogy from our day and time that we are all very familiar with. It goes like this… A man’s home is on fire because in a moment of passion (for whatever reason) he pours gasoline on the floor and lights a match to it causing it to burn. For one reason or another (we don’t know) but the man is unable to escape the flames of his burning house. A neighbor notices the home engulfed in flames and places a 911 call to the authorities. The authorities show up at the burning home. Who are the authorities? There are two authorities. One is a fireman and one is a policeman. They both have to make judgements, but from each one’s point of authority. The fireman makes the judgement that the house is on fire and that the man needs rescued. The policeman makes a different judgement that comes from investigation which leads him to eventually put the man in jail. Both authorities (police and fireman) make judgement. For the sake of my argument, which authority does the Christian have before sinful man? Is it not that we as Christians must act, not as a policeman, but as a fireman? And we as Christians should do this with a heart of humility. For truth be told, all our houses are burning, and Jesus, thank God, has come to put the fire out. Submitted with what I hope comes from a spirit of grace and truth. May our precious Lord bless us all. Thank you.

  19. I would agree with your assesment to a point. I would hope that the fireman also taught safety, to teach people not to play with fire and all the dangers that come with it, not just running around putting out fires. Fireman are often to late to save those in trouble. If the fire or sin in our lives are to the point that we are engulfed, the chances of our being saved is slim. If someone had said something back when the fire was small, chances are things would have turned out better.

    • Jeff, you have some good thoughts there. And I agree that there is a lot more to being a fireman than simply putting out the fire. Prevention is a part of the fireman’s duty, and within his scope of authority to teach such. It is up to the citizens of said community (implied) to whether they follow the fireman’s teachings. If and when they don’t, sooner or later, a fire will probably break out. At that point the fireman’s duty is not writing tickets (that is for the police); the fireman’s duty is to the best of his ability, retrieve that which is most precious from the flames, i.e. a human soul. Certainly as Christians we are here to teach, warn, instruct, call to righteousness and even call others to repent. But we do so with a humble heart that is indicative of the fact that one time not too long ago each one of us has been guilty of setting our own homes and lives afire. With that in mind with judge who is in danger of hell fire and offer instruction that leads those about to perish towards the Christ, who alone has the power to extinguish the flames. For me, my judgement is not that of writing the tickets to guilty souls (for I myself am guilty). My task is to be on the scene seeking and saving the perishing. My judgement is that of discernment of those who are in danger. My judgement is not that of judges’ gavel and bench decries a man’s guilt. My judgement is simply to risk my life to lead a perishing soul to the Savior. Otherwise, it is my soul that is in gravest danger; for it has become apearant that I, myself, have not understood my own calling unto the Lord. I thank the Lord that even now, my most faithful friends are the ones who call me to repent, with tears in their eyes. With a broken heart they draw me closer to the Savior, reminding me, and encouraging me to keep from the flames, and find safety in the presence of Jesus. Judgement will be a part of our lives, whether we want it to be or not. But it must never be the judgement of the court (that belongs to God). It can only be the judgement that descerns who is in danger (whether it be ourselves or others). And to go boldly yet humbly and plead for lost souls, struggling souls, mis-guided souls to graciously learn to walk with the Soveriegn King who died for me,,..and all. But for the grace of God, there go I. Worthy of note: the word “repentance” has as its goal the joining together two things that are apart. And this that they might be one. I am reminded of Jesus’ prayer as he enters into his Passion for you and me. No greater love…

      Grace and peace my friend,

  20. What this post warns against — to borrow the metaphor — is becoming the kind of fireman who turns arsonist for the thrill of extinguishing the blaze.

    I have written a more detailed article titled “Fellowship and Judgment,” which will go live at New Wineskins on the twenty-first of February.

    • To Keith Brenton, I say thanks. I am reminded of Peter’s words, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8, NIV). In a way, firemen cover people with love. Love puts out the fires that would otherwise consume us.

      Grace and peace,
      Keith C. Brown

    • Brother Laymond,
      Glad to be on the Jerico Road with you brother. The good news is it we die in Christ we will be raised to everylasting life. Rocky roads make strong Christians. I appreciate your faith friend.
      God bless,
      Keith C. Brown

  21. I think I understand the heart of this article. I’ve seen so many cases of mean spiritedness on the internet that it’s rare that I post anything at all. However, in regards to Christians judging Christians, I view the teachings of Jesus and Paul as instructing people how to judge rightly, rather than not judging at all.

    Telling people that they are wrong to judge is a judgment itself, so to escape this logical contradiction I believe that judgment is an essential part of the church. Without it, we could never tell others to say away from the wolves among the flock.

    • Edwin, I’ve written a more in-depth article going live at New Wineskins on the 21st, titled “Fellowship and Judgment.” I may be way off-base, but I trust there will be plenty of brothers and sisters willing to let me know. Kindly, I hope! But if I’m wrong, I’m wrong.

  22. Here is a verse that does, grammatically at least, saynthatbwe are to judge others:
    “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?”
    The word “judge” apparently has a range of meaning that captures both Jesus’ and Paul’s usage.
    Keith, what you said about love seems to clear it up for me. We can judge with love (this is “fraternal correction” or without (this is forbidden).
    What do you guys think?

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