Rather, being criminals ourselves, we have been shown the path to pardon, and we merely pass that good news forward. God is good, and we are not. There is a justice and, apart from mercy, we shall feel it. Making that clear to others is kindness, not condescension.
If you were a passenger in a friend’s car and said, “In case you didn’t notice, you’re speeding, and there’s a policeman just down the street,” he’d probably think you were doing him a favor. And you would be. The illustration has its limits, of course, but I think you see the point.
There is something else, though, that I do not want you to miss. It’s the most important thing to know about this challenge. “Who are you to judge?” turns out not to be a question at all, but a statement in disguise: “No one is allowed to pass judgment of any kind.” Since morality is just a matter of personal opinion, all judgments are out of bounds. It’s the relativist’s ploy.
Of course, the relativist is always fooling himself on this score. Though he may have convinced himself for the moment, this is not what he really believes, since he is full of judgment when it suits him. In fact—and this you may have noticed—the complaint is self-defeating, since it is itself an implicit judgment of the Christian.
As it turns out, when critics impose any version of “judge not,” it is not an appeal that you be virtuous; it is a demand that they be left alone. They cite Jesus not out of conviction but out of convenience, not wanting to be subjects of any moral critique themselves.
So, how do we maneuver gracefully, yet shrewdly, when facing this challenge? I find it best to navigate situations like this by asking questions. In light of the observations above, here are a few that come to mind.