“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:1-2).
Many consider Christians to be too judgmental, and in the name of tolerance, love, and acceptance, suggest that it is never OK to judge. Satan is the great deceiver. I believe one of his more effective moves in recent decades is to foster social movements which alter core or traditional values. In the last fifty years or so there have been significant social shifts toward equating judging with bigotry, linking moral standards with prejudice, viewing truth as being relative, and confusing what feels good with what is good. These new mores are prominent in media, reflected in recent laws, advanced in academia by those deemed enlightened, and they have become the norm on the street.
These social changes, and a misunderstanding of well-known verses such as, “Judge not lest ye be judged” (Matthew 7:1-3), have quieted the voice and influence of the Church in our culture. In short, many Christians do not defend the faith (1 Peter 3:15) for fear of being labeled a bigot, or because they do not understand that expressing biblical truths in love is biblical, and an expression of the love of God.
Christians are called to share their faith (Matthew 28:18-20) and serve as Watchmen, guarding against the encroachment of sin (Ezekiel 33). These are not suggestions—they are commands, and they evidence a true commitment to the Lord. Many are quick to say that Jesus loved and accepted all. While it is true that Jesus extended love to all, it is also true that He did not accept all behavior—and He was quick and bold in calling-out behavior that conflicted with the moral code of Scripture. Why? Was Jesus mean, or prejudicial, or a bigot? No. He warned them and rebuked them because He loved them. Because He cared for sinners, He constantly challenged individuals to recognize, and move away from, sin.
Jesus exercised great freedom in calling-out behaviors that Scripture deemed sin and activities that hindered spiritual development. So then, the question is not, should a Christian judge? The answer to that question is, Yes. Christians are commanded to speak the truth, know Scripture and rightly judge what is right and what is wrong. The question is not, should a Christian judge but rather, how should a Christian judge.
THOUGHTS AND QUESTIONS REGARDING JUDGING
Is it OK or not OK to Judge?
- Yes, judging is prominent in Scripture. The word “judge” in its various forms (judgeth, judging, judgment, judges, etc.) is found over 700 times in Scripture.
Does Scripture indicate that it is NOT OK to Judge?
- Though some verses (John 12:47; Rom. 14:13; James 2:12-13; 1 Cor. 5:12-13; Matt. 7:1-2) can be taken out of context to make it seem so, the truth is, believers are authorized (and even commanded) to judge, as long as it is done in the right way, for the right purpose, and with the right motive.
Are individuals, and the ‘Church’ called to Judge?
- Yes, on spiritual matters and with the right heart and motive.
- “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things…” (1 Cor 2:15).
- Loving others requires that one graciously correct individuals when they fall into error (Matthew 18;1 Corinthians 1:11; Galatians 6:1).
- The church has the responsibility to teach sound doctrine and correct erroneous teaching (2 Timothy 2:25,3:16; Titus 2:1).
Important Guidelines for Judging
- Judge, but not like the Pharisees In Matthew 5:20—7:6, Jesus warns His disciples against following the traditions and practices of the Pharisees, who judged others as if they were beyond judgment. What’s more, they judged by the letter, not the spirit, of the law.
- Judge, but with the right attitude Jesus noted that it is not the act of judging but the attitude/motives that surrounds the act which makes it right or wrong. As a governor to this act Jesus said, “In the same way you judge others, you will be judged” (Matthew 7:2).
- Do not judge too quickly or without due consideration
- “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly” (John 7:24).
- “He that answereth a matter before he hearethit, it is folly and shame unto him.” Proverbs 18:13 (KJV)
- Simon the Pharisee drew Jesus’ rebuke for judging a woman without knowing all of the facts (Luke 7:36-50).
- Do not let your judgments be considered hypocritical (Matthew 6:2,5, 16, 7:3-5; Romans 2:1).
- Do not judge without discernment and fairness
- We are to be discerning (Colossians 1:9;1 Thess 5:21).
- We are to consider the whole counsel of God on each matter (Acts 20:27;2 Timothy 4:2).
- We are not to be hypocritical (Matt. 6:2, 5, 16; 7:3-5; Rom. 5:1)
- We are to judge with gentleness and love (Galatians 6:1; Ephesians 4:15).
- We are to judge by Scriptural truths/standards (Matthew 16:19). Isaiah 8:20 notes, “To the law and to the testimony: If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Our standard is God’s Word, not our feelings, our traditions, or our opinions.
- Do not judge on disputable matters (Romans 14:2). Don’t make more of a matter than God makes of it. Colossians 2:16 provides a good example of this: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days…”
- We are not to judge with the wrong motive James 4:11 speaks to this. What you point-out (judge) may be true, but if the reason you’re speaking of it is to put an individual in a bad light, or if it is out of jealousy or pride, then the judgment is wrong.
- We are not to judge preferentially (Proverbs 24:23; Isaiah 42:1, 19-21).
- We are to judge with the goal of restoration, not condemnation (Gal. 6:1-4; Matthew 7:1-2).
- We are to judge ourselves first (Matt 7:4-5; 1 11:30-31).
“So you…I have made a watchman…Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.” Ezek. 33:7-10
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matt. 5:14-16
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