Fruit inspecting. ie, passing judgement on someone based on sins that are observed.
The way it exists today, always ends up grading on the curve.
Take as an example, the following list of passages from a recent article on desiringgod.org regarding the topic of foolishness and who not to vote for.
- The foolish look with haughty eyes (Proverbs 6:17).
- The foolish engage in slander (Proverbs 10:18).
- The foolish joke about their wrongdoing (Proverbs 10:23).
- The foolish make great boasts (Psalm 12:3).
- The foolish are stubbornly right in their own eyes (Proverbs 12:15).
- The foolish are quickly annoyed by insults (Proverbs 12:16).
- The foolish lash out in rash words like sword thrusts (Proverbs 12:18).
- The foolish express no shame over their folly (Proverbs 13:16).
- The foolish speak and act with recklessness and carelessness (Proverbs 14:16).
- The foolish spew folly from their mouths (Proverbs 15:2).
- The foolish despise instruction and reproofs from those who are wiser (Proverbs 15:5).
- When the foolish try and speak in a dignified manner it feels artificial (Proverbs 17:7).
- Rebukes just bounce off of the foolish (Proverbs 17:10).
- The foolish love to boldly pronounce their opinions (Proverbs 18:2).
- The foolish have repeatedly been ensnared by their words in their past (Proverbs 18:7).
- The foolish are often characterized by quarreling (Proverbs 20:3).
- The foolish frequently disregard wisdom (Proverbs 23:9).
- When others stoop to engage the foolish according to their folly, they end up looking foolish themselves (Proverbs 26:4).
- The foolish have a history of repeating their folly (Proverbs 26:11).
- Those known to be wise are concerned and burdened by the words and actions of the foolish (Proverbs 27:3).
- The foolish rage or mock when arguing with others (Proverbs 29:9).
- The foolish love to give full vent to their spirit (Proverbs 29:11).
- The foolish are quick to speak (Proverbs 29:20).
- The foolish are often characterized by shouting (Ecclesiastes 9:17).
- The foolish may consider themselves religious, but their unbridled tongues show that religion to be worthless (James 1:26).
Now, at first, you may be inclined to think these passages apply to a certain candidate (not like the picture they used had anything to do with it . . . We Christians are so good at being objective, aren’t we?) But the more you read through them, you have to concede that most of them not only apply to every candidate running, but actually, to every person alive.
So now what?
Well, since we can’t locate anyone who is not guilty of these, we gotta go another route. And the chosen route is that we have to start asking “who sins more compared to the rest of us?” Which is where the grading on the curve comes in.
But this actually gives rise to another conundrum:
Since a large portion of sin cannot be observed, we ultimately end up asking who hides it better?
By the way, have we ever considered that the people who are the most honest would inevitably be the ones who seem to have more sin? They’re transparent. They’re not trying to hide it for fear of other’s opinions. So think about it . . . This means the process of, “fruit inspecting” is designed in such a way as to punish honesty, and reward deceit.
Just Ignore Christ’s Words?
Obviously this does not mean we disregard what Jesus said about knowing people by their fruit. It doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition.
“Either we apply it in a questionable and completely subjective way, or we’re ignoring what Christ said.”
The best approach is to recognize that the current application is deeply flawed and therefore we need to work on a better, more biblically accurate way of applying it. And until we do, we need to realize we are dealing with some very delicate issues of judgement, here. Issues, that, if we’re wrong (and remember, you fit that list of foolish characteristics, too), we are the ones in sin.