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Who Has the Ability to Judge Good and Evil?

Earlier this spring, I was taking a women’s Bible study at a local church. The study was on Ephesians, but the first night we met, the leader gave us an entire overview of the Bible. When she was talking about the beginning of the Bible, something struck me.

God: Eat freely from any and all trees in the garden; I only require that you abstain from eating the fruit of one tree—the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” – Genesis 2:16 &17

God provided the first humans, Adam and Eve, with everything they needed and more. He gave them water, plenty of food, fellowship with Himself, and animals to name and take care of. It was paradise. The only thing He asked is that they do not eat from one tree.

What was that tree called? The tree of good and evil? No. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Think about that for a moment. God said that eating from this tree would surely mean death to Adam and Eve. Was it because they would then have the power to distinguish good from evil? Even though that is what the serpent promised Eve, it was not!

The reason eating from this tree was forbidden is that once Adam and Eve tasted the fruit, they would believe that they had the knowledge of what was good and what was evil.

When they ate the fruit, what was the first thing Adam and Eve did? “For the first time, they sensed their vulnerability and rushed to hide their naked bodies, stitching fig leaves into crude loincloths.” (Genesis 3:7)

They hid. They felt ashamed and naked. This feeling was not of God.

The beginning of many disputes and sins today is the fact that we put ourselves in God’s shoes. We think that we have the ability to decipher what is good and what is evil in other peoples lives. We think that we have the right to judge them. But do we?

During this Bible study, I suddenly realized that when I think that I know better than God, that is the mistake. When I look at someone different than me, who speaks differently, or acts differently, or worships, prays, etc., differently than I do, and I judge them on that, I am in the wrong. It is not my place to judge.

What has God asked of me? To judge thy neighbour? To make sure people around me know that I disapprove of a certain habit or thing that they do? No, this is what He has said.

“Jesus (quoting Scripture): “Love the Eternal One your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is nearly as important, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The rest of the law, and all the teachings of the prophets, are but variations on these themes.” – Matthew 22:37-40

God asked me to love my fellow man. Loving someone leaves no room to judge them. That is not my job, but God’s alone. Am I perfect at this? Not a chance. In fact, on my own strength, I believe at the worst of times, it’s impossible. However, with God’s help, I can love others, even when it’s hard!

The original sin was the idea that man could position himself into the place of God and judge what was good and evil. From here, wars have happened, brother turned against brother, and we are left wounded and broken. We were never meant to hold the power of being able to judge what someone else does. That is for God and God alone. And when I think about it, I don’t want that job. It’s exhausting and draining. Plus, it always leaves me feeling gross.

Can I look into someones heart and know their motives behind their actions? Can I know a persons whole life story and the “why” behind what they do? I cannot but there is One who can.

If God asks me to love Him and love my fellow human, then that is a big enough task to fill the rest of my life, if you ask me. How can I even attempt this? “We love because He has first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

When I see someone who is hurting me or another, my prayer is to have the eyes of God and see this person as God sees them. And if I think a change is needed, my job is to bring that person before the Lord and hand them over. Let God be the judge, not me. Plus, from how I have experienced God, He doesn’t just bring the hammer down, but first shows His incredible love, care, and concern for each individual.

I know this is easier said than done, but I believe it is the most worthwhile investment I can make in my life! To judge less and love more!

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