Matthew 7:16 NIV
By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
People freely throw out the phrases, “Christians are judgmental,” “Don’t judge me,” and “Only God can judge me,” but I am not sure that they really understand the true meaning of these phrases. To refrain from judgment does not mean to live blind to the sin that is in the world. We recognize a tree by its fruit. If a person is involved in something that is obviously sinful, we recognize that – it is apparent. If a person recognizes sin that is in the life of another, that does not make them judgmental – it makes them observant. It is the person who condemns, who belittles another, who questions a person’s love for God, who disqualifies another for God’s goodness, and the like, that is judgmental.
The acts of our sinful nature and the acts of our Spiritual nature are contradictory. If a person is walking in the Spirit, they will recognize the difference. If we see a fellow Christian indulging in the flesh, then we should want to help them understand that sin is destructive because we love them. We care about our brothers and sisters and we want them to enjoy the good life that God has in store for them. We understand that no one can live that life apart from Christ; we know that we need to be ensconced in the Word of God. It is our desire to see others prosper in the Lord that makes us speak up. Paul even instructed us to restore our brothers and sisters who are involved in sin (Galatians 6:1). To restore is to repair, to adjust. A person cannot be restored without first recognizing that the actions they are involved in are not Spiritual. We need to be able to talk to each other; we need to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). The truth is the Word.
To judge another is to pass sentence on them; in other words, it is trying to do what only God has the right to do. To judge is to condemn; it is to determine a person’s motives, their love for God, their worth, and the like. When we are involved in judgment, we are lacking love. Love covers a multitude of sins – the Hebrew word for “cover” includes the definition to overwhelm. Love will swallow up sin because love is of God. The power that is in the love of God is greater than any sin!
If we want to condemn others, esteem their worth, or diminish their love for God, then we are actively judging. We cannot expect anything Spiritual to come from this sort of behavior. Flesh will only give birth to flesh – and judging another is the fruit of the flesh. We cannot help another Christian by judging them, but we can help them by loving them – and love speaks the truth.
“Only God can judge me,” is the flesh’s attempt to ignore the sin problem. We use the excuse of others being judgmental to continue in the sin that we are happy to indulge in. If God were to judge us, we wouldn’t stand a chance! As Christians, Christ took out judgment for us and we should never be arrogant enough to invite a judgment that we have been set free from. We have been saved from judgment because Jesus Christ paid the price for us!
We must receive our brother’s recognition of the sin that is in our lives IF they are speaking in agreement with the Word in love. If we do not, then we are clearly more comfortable in our flesh than we are in the Spirit. Therein lies the problem. We must receive the truth in love. We can know that anyone who loves us wants what is best for us. Sin is destructive; it is fatal. As they give us the Word and we receive it, we will see a Spiritual transformation. The Word is the Seed that we require for Spiritual fruit. We can defeat sin through the power of the Word – and He is the Word (John 1:1).
The law instructs us to judge not lest we incur that same judgment. Grace enables us to love and swallow up the sin that so easily entangles. The law gives sin power over us (1 Corinthians 15:56), but grace gives us power over sin (Romans 5:20-21). Under the law, we would receive what we gave; but under grace, we would receive what we could not give. Grace is translated from a word that means the Divine influence on the heart and its reflection in our life. Grace, therefore, is synonymous with the Word of God. We are influenced by God through His Word. As we continue in the Word of God, we will see a transformation in our lives. Only the Word of God can transform us. Receive the Word in love!