“It’s Just A Matter of Judgment”
Who among us has not had some religious discussion cut short by being told, “Well, it’s just a matter of judgment!” With that sage observation, it is thought that all further investigation is rendered unnecessary. The idea seems to be, “You can have your judgment (opinion), and I’ll have mine, and both of us will be equally correct and acceptable to God.”
Now, please allow me to make a couple of observations about this:
First, it is true that there are some questions which involve personal opinion and liberty, cf. Romans chapter 14.
Second, matters upon which God has clearly spoken (e.g., the necessity of baptism for the forgiveness of sins) are not in that category. In these areas, we are to “speak as the oracles of God,” and none of us is entitled to his own judgment.
Having noted these basic (and it would seem, obvious) facts, we need to remember that as we seek to apply the Bible’s teaching, we will sometimes find ourselves at the point where we must use judgment. For example, the Bible does not define in precise detail such things as how much we ought to give, how many hours each week we should spend in Bible study or prayer, etc. In such matters, and a myriad of others that could be given, the Bible speaks in principle, and the application requires us to use judgment.
The point of all of this is to make us realize that there are indeed areas where we are called upon to exercise judgment in carrying out God’s revealed will. Developing this much-needed wisdom is part of our spiritual maturity. We are to grow in knowledge (2 Peter 3:18), use what we learn (Hebrews 5:14), and pray for wisdom (James 1:5). Paul’s desire for the saints at Philippi was that their love would abound in knowledge and judgment (discernment), and that they would come to be able to distinguish between the things that differ (Philippians 1:9,10.)
The fact that God has left us to exercise judgment in the application of His word should not cause us to feel that we have been left adrift without a compass. We have been given all things that pertain unto life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). It remains for us to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly in all wisdom (Colossians 3:16) and to seek constantly to make our decisions upon the basis of what would please God and bring glory to Him.
One final word of caution is in order. Just because some Christians may differ on a question does not necessarily prove that it is a matter of judgment. We must never seek to ignore the Bible’s clear teaching on any subject by telling ourselves that, since all do not (or will not) agree on it, then “it’s just a matter of judgment.”