Why Rushing to Judgment is Wrong: A Christian Perspective
Everyday people come online to join the bashing bandwagon. They read one or two sentences of an accusation against someone and they quickly jump in to hurl invectives at the person. Some do this for fun, others are dead serious and would like to see harm come to the object of their outrage. But all such rush to judgment is wrong.
A few weeks ago, people were mad at Pastor Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church, Houston, because a stash of money and cheques were found in the wall of his church by a plumber. People don’t wait for explanations or for all the facts to come in, they just constitute themselves into prosecutor, judge and jury and pass the most punitive verdicts.
They seized the opportunity of the discovered stash to rant about Osteen’s wealthy status (which they believe is improper for a Christian preacher). For example, two people tweeted as follows:
Joel Osteen is a Criminal who steals from the poor & gives to the Rich, himself! A plumber found envelopes of cash & checks hidden in a bathroom wall of his church!! When will these fools stop giving money to hucksters like #JoelOsteen? #TaxTheChurches
8:24 AM · Dec 3, 2021
Good morning and Happy Friday to everyone who agrees that leaders of filthy rich mega churches like Joel Osteen who stuff the walls of their church with $350,000 in cash should be taxed.
In fact, tax ALL of the churches.
8:44 AM · Dec 3, 2021
(Image credit: Joel Osteen’s Facebook page)
However, the money that was found has been established to have been stolen from the church in 2014, so it’s not Osteen’s personal money. Osteen has often been attacked also for his feel-good preaching and prosperity messages.
(Read my views on Christians and wealth here.)
I’m not surprised about unbelievers who rush to judgment. They probably don’t know any better and feel accountable to no one. What worries me is when Christians heartily get involved.
We are supposed to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13-15). We are meant to bring clarity and healing to people and situations and we can’t do that by constantly rushing to judgment and condemning people.
I think it’s arrogant to express strong opinions about everything because we can’t possibly know all the details. I think if we must speak on an issue, we should do so with love and grace, put ourselves in the shoes of the person we’re speaking about and give them the benefit of the doubt. Many people’s lives have been destroyed by unwarranted cruel judgments online and many wrongdoers have been given a pass due to hasty media exoneration and public pressure arising therefrom.
Ephesians 4:5 admonishes us to speak the truth in love and Colossians 4:6 charges us to always speak with grace and season our words with salt. I believe that is part of how we can let our light shine before men so they can give glory to God with us (Matthew 5:16), rather than seizing every opportunity to pull down people God made in His image and died for.
That you don’t agree with someone’s preaching does not necessarily invalidate his ministry. God has not called everyone to share the same message or to use the same methods. Take time to listen and learn more about what people are doing. And even if you find they are Biblically off base, pray for wisdom on how to address it, so that you don’t in your zeal and anger end up doing the devil’s work of accusing the brethren and creating unnecessary rifts in the body of Christ.
Another side of rushing to judgment is defending or completely exonerating people accused of wrongdoing in the heat of the moment. While we should not join the mob to cancel people and call for jungle justice, we should not declare people guiltless or defend them profusely simply on the basis of media narratives that are often agenda-driven and devoid of facts. We should only call for calm and proper investigation, reminding people that the accused ought to be deemed innocent until proven guilty.
The case of Jussie Smollett, the Black American actor who claimed he was attacked by supposed White supporters of America’s immeduate past president, Donald Trump, in the wee hours of Jan. 29, 2019, illustrates the folly of rushing to judgment. Many prominent people and media strongly supported Smollett and called for severe punishment for those responsible for the alleged “hate” crime. They used the case as evidence of their claims that Trump and his supporters were racist and violent.
Investigations by the Chicago Police Department, however, showed that Smollett had hired help from two Nigerian born brothers to fake the attack and attract public sympathy to improve his career prospects. But even as the matter was put on trial, those who had rushed to side with Smollett (who had been milking public outrage over his earlier report of the “crime” by making media appearances), stuck to their guns in spite of evidence to the contrary. They continued to paint Trump supporters as hateful because Smollett alleged that his attackers poured a chemical on him, cast racist and homophobic slurs at him and hung a noose around his neck.
Although the charges were dropped through the intervention of Black District Attorney Kim Foxx, who had connections with the Smollett family, the investigations were subsequently reopened and Smollett was charged with six counts of filing a false police report. On Dec. 2021, he was convicted of five of the six counts.
So, those who demonised Trump supporters on Smollett’s say-so and defended him when the Chicago PD first suggested he was lying have been left with mud on their faces.
Always remember that you don’t have to judge everything and if you must comment on a matter, wait for the facts to come in first and pray. It is only then that you can meet up with the injunction of our Lord Jesus: “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24 – KJV).
(This post was first published on my Facebook profile on Dec. 4, 2021 in a shorter form.)