It was only a matter of time before I decided to write on this topic. After all, this one verse has found its way to being the #1 excuse used by both Christians and non-believers alike to defend their actions. For the most part, those of us confronted with this verse tend to concede and retreat, often never to approach the person again concerning whatever the issue may have been. But the question is can we, or do we have any right to, judge another person?
Before we get into the treatment of whether to judge or not, I want to first bring to light that I find it amazing that those who claim to be non-believers or atheists tend to use biblical scripture to defend their actions. The same group may also be found accusing those who are believers of being hypocrites! I am not a Christian Apologist by profession, but I think the above would be a good foundation for a compelling discussion with a non-believer since definition of a hypocrite is basically someone whose actions belie their statement of belief (or in this case lack thereof). Well, if someone says they don’t believe in God but use His Word to defend a position…??? (I’m just saying).
Now as it concerns judgment, Jesus makes this statement to let us know that we shouldn’t form a condemning opinion regarding a situation or person by merely looking on the outside. But does this mean we should never judge at all?
This may or may not come as a surprise to some but there is actually, judgment which takes place in the Kingdom. Many of us know that judgment will take place for everyone at the return of Christ and not only that but Christians will be given the task of judging the angels.
Truth is most people who use this passage are merely attempting to justify what they want to do. But is it judging a person to share the Gospel? Though there are some who will try and make us believe that the answer is NO. We are told or commissioned by Jesus to share the good news and just because sharing that gospel cause discomfort for some doesn’t mean we are judging anyone. Is it judgment to tell a fellow believer that their behavior is inappropriate, no. Chances are the person already knows it’s wrong which is why they are making such a “stink” about it.
So what if I have a mote in my eye? Clearly there is work that must be done in all of our lives. If we choose only to play “Christian Cop”, pointing the finger at everybody else and all the while lack the ability to see ourselves, there is a problem. It is incumbent upon every believer to examine themselves with the measure being Jesus alone. We are to, without question, press towards the mark, work out our own salvation, be a living sacrifice, and earnestly seek the kingdom. Just because we have been given a wonderful gift, as righteousness is imputed to those in Christ, we should still seek after it. “Blessed and fortunate and happy and spiritually prosperous (in that state in which the born-again child of God enjoys His favor and salvation) are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God), for they shall be completely satisfied!(Matthew 5:6, AMP).”
Don’t be fooled, there is a difference between judging unto condemnation and calling right, right and wrong, wrong. Honestly, we all get a little defensive when someone “reads” us the right way which is way we really need to carefully and honestly consider the words of others who really have our best interest at heart. You see, real correction is rooted in love and when done in wisdom, it can lead to growth within the individual who receives it.
The Bible says that the carnal mind is enmity to God: “[That is] because the mind of the flesh [with its carnal thoughts and purposes] is hostile to God, for it does not submit itself to God's Law; indeed it cannot. (Romans 8:6 AMP),” so some folks will get slick and throw up any defense they can find so that they don’t have to admit any wrong doing. I am sure you’ve heard or perhaps even done it, you know how we can drag up some event that happened 25 years ago to act as a red herring for our own stench. But the Bible does clearly show judgment taking place by the people of God. Here are some examples:
In Matthew 16:15-18, we see that we can bring faults to the attention of others and the progress that may take place should that not be effective. Some of us use the latter part of this passage to justify low attendance at church (Matthew 18:20), but the intent was for those times when the church was placed in the difficult position of disciplining a fellow member:
“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”
In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul speaks to church of Corinth about their lack of judgment in case of a man within the congregation caught in fornication with his father’s wife. Paul even tells the church to deliver the man to Satan that his so that his spirit may be saved.
“For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
And Jesus told a group who was angry with him after healing a man on the Sabbath these words, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment (John 7:24),” not telling the people that they should NEVER judge, but to do so righteously.
The thing that we all must remember is that everything we do must be done with love. The motive should not be a selfish one but one that is of genuine concern for those involved. Sadly, some have done the church an injustice by brow beating others without any love or mercy to be found. We who are believers are called to judge one another righteously (this means if you claim to be a Christian but you haven’t graced the doors of a church since 1983, you still qualify for some loving correction). Paul further tells the church at Corinth these words, “Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES. (1 Cor. 5:12-13).”
As for those who are outside of the kingdom, the Lord will be their judge just as Paul states in the aforementioned verse. Our responsibility towards them is to again, share the Gospel in love. If it is rejected, know that they are not rejecting you (‘cause it ain’t about you), but they are, in fact, rejecting Christ as their Lord and Savior. The best thing to do when someone is obstinate is to continue to show the effects of the love of God in your life and kindly leave them with an exhortation to consider surrendering their life to the same loving and merciful God that saved you out of your situation.