It’s amazing how many people don’t understand the Bible’s position on judging one another. Judging (pun intended) from the remarks made by commenters on this board whether educated or not, clergy or not, many people mistake judging people with intolerance. Many feel that to be good Christians means to never say nothing negative to or about anyone.
But if we are called to do the work of reproof, correction, instruction, rebuke, exhortation and convincing: then one would think we would have to do some amount of judging. It is this same type of judging common throughout my blog and I know many find it to be a bit too uncomfortable at times. My passion is defending the faith by exposing error against the truth of the Bible (Ephesians 5:8-13) and many times I’ve had to resort to some type of judging in order to discern how best to confront an error and to determine what scriptural passage would be best suited for the person I’m directing it to.
So with that, I dedicate this post on judging; what it means to judge, when to judge and whom can make judgements. I’ll also share what type of judging we shouldn’t be doing at all.
I’ll begin with some scriptures that explain what is involved in judging and why we are commanded to do so:
1) “Why Judge? – Biblical judging results in spiritual growth in a person:
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” 2 Timothy 4:2
“Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.” 1 Timothy 5:20
“This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith,” Titus 1:13
“Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.” Titus 2:15
“let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soulfrom death and cover a multitude of sins.” James 5:20
2) What is judging? – “Judge not that ye be not judged!” The most misunderstood Bible verse
Well, where did this idea come from that we not judge one another? It comes from no other than the Bible itself:
“Judge not, that you be not judged” Matthew 7:1
This has to be every non-Christian’s (and Christians who don’t want to be judged) favorite Bible verse to quote to people regarding judging. But most stop at the end of verse one completely ignoring the rest of this very important passage:
“For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:2-5
Christ is stressing the point that we self-examine ourselves before judging anyone or else we will be considered a hypocrite. Some of us are so quick to point out small faults in others while ignoring our own major faults. After self-examination it is then that we are given the green light to make judgement of others – judgement done in love!
“… but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—” Ephesians 4:15 (see Ephesians 4:11-16 for full context of passage).
3) How to judge. – Must discipline unrepentant Christians and also “whom” does the judging.
But even in love, sometimes stricter measures but be taken for impenitent Christians. Again, another situation where judging a person’s actions must take place! These next few verses make it clear that we are to admonish Christians or those who claim to be Christian and not the non-believers when persistent breaking of God’s commandments is practiced:
“I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.
For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.” 1 Corinthians 5:9-13
Those who are “outside” are the non-Christians, and judgement is left to God regarding them. Our sole job with the non-Christian is to introduce them to Christ. But those on the “inside” are believers and we must judge one another for the perfecting of our faith as the scriptures proclaim (see scriptures listed above).
4) But what about condemning someone to hell? Isn’t that judging?
Yes. When it comes to telling someone about hell, explaining hell’s existence and God’s purpose for hell is one thing, but condemning someone to hell is something not even our Lord Himself was about doing.
“I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does not believe,I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.” John 12:46-48
In other words, the ultimate judging comes in the last days and that’s when Jesus will turn from Savior to Judge. That type of judgement is reserved for the end times and by God Himself so we should never be speaking ill of anyone in that respect. Judgement that is acceptable is for the specific purpose of exhortation, correction, biblical instruction and edification must be done in love!