I think that this is one of the most confusing topics in Christianity. It shouldn’t be, but we have allowed carnal Christians and the unsaved world to pin us into submission on this topic. Anytime a well-meaning Christian points out sin, all that the “sinner” has to do is scream “You’re judging me!” and the well-meaning Christian is forced into silence.
I have to give these people credit, they have very successfully convinced Christians of something their Bible doesn’t say. They’ve done it so well that most Christians in our day and age don’t even have a real understanding of what judging is.
The fact of the matter is that Christians are actually told to judge. You’re probably thinking “What?!” It’s true.
The one scripture that any sinner or carnal Christian in our generation can quote is Matthew 7:1, “Judge not that ye be not judged.” They know this scripture so well that they can even break out the King James Old English! Most of the people that can quote this verse can’t tell you where to actually find it, they can only yell “The Bible says to judge not!” I heard one preacher say “That’s good, can you tell me anything else that the Bible says?” “Can you quote any other verses?”
The most basic rule of hermeneutics (Bible interpretation) is the law of context. You need to read the surrounding verses, or the whole story to get the point of what is actually being said. If you’ll read the rest of this story in Matthew 7 you’ll see that Jesus finally reaches His point in verse 5, “5 Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”
Jesus told you to make sure you have dealt with your own issues so you can then help your friends with theirs. It’s as simple as that. He didn’t say to never tell anybody that what they are doing is wrong. He actually encouraged you to live your life right so you can be of help to other people.
There are two types of judging. One type is good and the other is bad.
The first kind of judging is judging actions. This is good. If somebody is undoubtedly doing something the Bible says is sin and not even trying to hide it, it is not wrong to call it a sin.
I REPEAT, CALLING SOMETHING A SIN THAT THE BIBLE SAYS IS SIN IS NOT AN UN-JUST JUDGMENT!
For instance, the sexual sin that plagues our country; it is not unloving and judgmental for a Christian to say “Hey, something isn’t right with this.” In John 7:24 Jesus said, “24 Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.”
In this verse Jesus tells us to judge. He says to look beneath the surface though, don’t just assume things.
Paul told us in 1 Corinthians 5 to judge other Christians who are living in sin.
“11 I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people. 12 It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning.”
So judging actions is not wrong. The Bible doesn’t say that we are to “condemn” those who are sinning. We are simply to judge their actions. This means we are to speak up!
We are at the place in society right now that we can’t say or point out a problem to anybody without them throwing their arms in the air and shouting “judge not!” That was never God’s intent. We should be able to look at each other and judge the fruit being grown and if it isn’t good we should be able to say something. This judging isn’t out of being mean, it’s out of love!
If you can tell that my current actions are going to bring harm and destruction to me, PLEASE JUDGE ME AND SAY SOMETHING!
It’s more cruel to let a person drive down a wrong road than it is to stop them and at least try to help them.
I sometimes use this example to prove my point: Imagine that my friend “Tim” has one small problem; he likes playing freeze tag on the freeway. He really enjoys it even though it’s really dangerous. How mean would it be of me to not say anything?
Imagine you witnessed this game of freeze tag going on and saw me just standing there watching! Imagine if you said to me, “Aren’t you going to say something?” And I replied “No, I don’t want to judge him. It’s his life and he really enjoys this. Look at the smile on his face. It’s none of my business.”
If someone I care about is doing something that’s going to lead to their destruction, it’s my business! We don’t need to be nosey and pry into people’s lives, but Paul was talking about someone who is living in blatant, open, unapologetic sin. Somebody needs to say something!
The second kind of judging is what we’ll call speculative judging. This means you are judging someone based on an assumption or appearance when you don’t really know for sure what the truth is.
I’m going to tell on myself. I found myself guilty of incorrectly judging somebody just this week. I went to the bank on Monday and outside in the parking lot was a man that looked homeless. He had a long beard and dirty clothes, and in fact he wasn’t even wearing any shoes! He resembled Uncle Jessie off of the Dukes of Hazard. Anyways, walking into the bank I was thinking, “I hope he doesn’t ask me for any money.” And “Don’t make eye contact, you’re in a hurry.” Well, he actually went into the bank ahead of me. He was a little loud and obnoxious to other customers. If he had been dressed differently I’m sure he wouldn’t have seemed so annoying to everyone in there. When he got up to the teller, she offered him a credit card. She said “You qualify for our _______ card that we only offer to certain customers.” His demeanor instantly changed. I could tell that he was not a fan of credit cards. He fired back “Why do I qualify?” She said “This card is only for customers who maintain a certain balance in their checking account sir.” He said “Oh yea?! And what balance is that? What is so special about my average balance?” She said “Sir, it’s over $50,000 a month.” He grabbed his receipt and marched out the door and told her to keep her credit card. I was standing there with my jaw on the floor. I had judged this man completely on an assumption. I was dead wrong. I was afraid he was going to ask me for money, and now I was tempted to chase him down and ask him for some money! (I’m kidding!)
When we judge somebody based on pure speculation, it is wrong. I don’t want anybody assuming something negative about me purely based on the way I look. However, if I call you tomorrow and tell you that I spent the night out getting drunk and robbing people, I really hope that you can judge those actions and tell me to repent.
So let’s review: We are supposed to judge people’s actions, but we aren’t supposed to judge their heart. We can never judge based on pure assumption or speculation.
Don’t let the world tell you that you are a mean, hateful, closed-minded, uneducated, bigot just because you believe in the Bible and still believe that there is right and wrong in this world. We are the light of the world and the salt of the earth. Don’t hide your light. Don’t silence your voice, especially in this day and age! We must do all things out of love, but now is not the time for the church to be quiet about the evils in this world.
So are Christians supposed to judge? The answer is yes. We are supposed to judge actions but not on pure assumptions or appearances.