It is common for brothers and sisters in Jesus to declare, “We are not to judge one another!” The truth is, there is judgment that is necessary, and there is unacceptable judgment which is harmful. For example, in response to the reports of sexual sin within the church of Corinth, Paul responded, ”I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present” (1 Cor. 5:3). Was Paul sinning in his judgment?
Was Paul misleading God’s people when he taught,
“What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?
Are you not to judge those inside?
God will judge those outside”
(1 Cor. 5:12, 13).
If judging one another is wrong, how can we live out what God’s Word teaches?
· “I urge you brethren to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way” (Romans 16:17).
· “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (I John 4:1).
· “And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not” (Malachi 3:18).
· “I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false” (Rev. 2:2).
· “..if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church! I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers?” (1 Cor. 6:4-5).
· “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment” (John 7:24).
Has God commanded us not to judge and then contradicted Himself? No! Instead, He has given us very clear instructions regarding how to judge:
1) Scripturally – God’s Word, not our opinions and traditions, is our measuring stick! "To the law and to the testimony: if they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isaiah 8:20). ”Put everything to the test. Hold on to what is good” (1 Thess. 5:21).
2) Prayerfully - "Give your servant a discerning heart to judge your people and to distinguish between good and bad: for who is able to judge this great people of yours?" (I Kings 3:9).
3) Without favoritism - "To show partiality in judging is not good” (Proverbs 24:23). “My brethren, show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ” (James 2:1).
4) According to Spiritual manifestation - We are not to judge according to what others say about someone or even what one says about themselves. We are not even to judge according to the measure of a person’s “Christian” activity. Rather, the determining question is, “Are they producing spiritual fruit?” (Matthew 7:16).
5) With mercy – “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!” (James 2:12-13).
6) Without hypocrisy – “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5).
It is true that Jesus warns those who judge with a fault-finding and condemning spirit, because their hypocritical attitude is no better than the one they are accusing. However, read in context, Jesus’ words, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged,” must be seen as a precursor to His instructions regarding the proper heart condition necessary before we can rightly and effectively minister to another (Matthew 7:1-5).
Could the rejection of God’s Word concerning judging one another be, at least in part, why the church is often indistinguishable from the world? Rather than resisting judgment or being judged, should we not invite this vital dimension of love into our lives?