I finished Part 2 with the idea that if condemnation cannot be an option in a situation, then neither can praise be an option. This also goes the other direction.
Just to make sure that I'm being clear about "option", I'm talking about before evidence pointing one way or the other is presented. If the situation is deemed to allow one, then it must also allow the other. If one option is available, then both are. The evidence provided after the initial determination of possible options will then determine which option is the correct one to administer.
I'm sure that many of you are already thinking of many situations that one is an option but not the other. Keep in mind though, that a neutral determination must be made before praise or condemnation can be administered. The neutral determination would be either "yes, you did perform the action," or "no, you did not perform the action". Depending on the situation, a "yes" or "no" will lead to the next step (action of condemnation or praise), while the other leads to exoneration (no special treatment). When the second step is reached, the evidence about the action itself is presented and this is what determines condemnation or praise.
Here's where things really start getting hairy. In our minds (or official rules), we have already conducted the second step on many actions before the first step is conducted on the person- meaning that many actions have already been defined as being worthy of praise or worthy of condemnation. We must determine if an action is worthy of praise or condemnation before we can determine if the person who performed the action is worthy of the same. So, here are the steps:
1. We must determine if a situation allows for a person who performed an action to be praised, condemned, or exonerated; or only exonerated (a discernment about the situation).
2. We must determine if a performed action should be followed by praise or condemnation (a discernment about the action).
3. We must determine if that action took place.
4. If "no", exoneration is the correct following action on the person. If "yes", either praise or condemnation (which ever is determined of the action in the first step) is the correct following action on the person.
5. The correct following action is performed.
What really confuses the issue is that steps 1 and 2 have already been done in most situations about most actions. (I'm referring to legal documents, policies and procedures, rules and regulations, etc.) We perform steps 3 through 5 all the time without really considering that 1 and 2 have already taken place. Unfortunately, this oversight is many times seen as 1 and 2 having not been performed or performed unreliably. This is where, I believe, that many people start to feel uncomfortable- especially when you are talking about a condemnation.
As mentioned in Part 1, please read my post "Right Living or Right Thinking?". Similarly, right thinking leads to developing the right conclusions of Steps 1 and 2, which allows for Steps 3 through 5.
Now having said all that, what does the Bible say about our administration of Judgment? I will cover that in Part 4.