Conduct an experiment. Gently correct a friend or family member about a lifestyle decision. Then wait for it. You’re likely to get one of three responses.
Judge not lest ye be judged.
He who is without sin cast the first stone.
Get the log out of your own eye.
We live in such a PC, overly sensitive, easily offended, narcissistic culture that no one wants to talk about sin. And please don’t come across sounding the least bit judgmental. That’s what makes us Christians such hypocrites, right? Whoa…let’s slow down a minute. I think some people have this judging thing all wrong.
First, as Christians, there’s a distinction between us judging nonbelievers and other believers. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 5:12-13, “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”” So, as Christians we aren’t supposed to judge nonbelievers. They are already condemned. We are to try to win them over to the Lord, but not judge them.
However, Paul does tell us to judge other believers.
In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul tells the church in Corinth to remove a church member who was caught in sexual immorality. How could they do that without first casting judgment on him? In fact, Paul said that he’d already passed judgment on the man.
And didn’t John the Baptist call the religious leaders of his day a brood of vipers?
But what about judge not, throwing stones and logs in our eyes?
So, the second point is about taking Scripture out of context.
I saw an interview with Randy Alcon, author of the book, Heaven. He said the problem with memory verses is that we remember them, but forget something very important. That other verses follow them. While people like to say “don’t judge me. Judge not lest you be judged”, there are verses which follow that matter. In this same passage Jesus also says, “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:2.
If I judge another believer then I can expect God to judge me by the same measure. It’s something I have to be aware of and make sure my heart is right before I start meddling in someone else’s business. Jesus isn’t making a proclamation not to judge. It’s a warning. The correction needs to come from love. It’s worth the risk. In the same passage Jesus goes on to say about the log in my eye, “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:5.
Does Jesus just say, hey worry about your own eye only? No, He prefaces by saying “first take the log out of your own eye”. Jesus is just being practical. I can’t see your speck if my log is in the way. If I’m as right as I can be before the Lord and my motives are rooted in love, then it seems there is permission here for me to help my brother remove his speck.
In the very next verse Jesus says, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” Matthew 7:6
Wow, sounds harsh.
It certainly sounds like some judgment is required to discern who the dogs and pigs are.
Furthermore, we have more than just implied permission. Jesus says in John 7:24, “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”
Finally, being “judgmental” is often the most loving thing we can do for someone we care about. Paul says in Galatians 6:1, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” Jude 1:23 says “save others by snatching them out of the fire.”
And there is a fire.
2 Timothy 2:24-26 says, “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”
So, I believe there’s plenty of Biblical support to judge our brothers and sisters in Christ in order to help them.
But if I’m stuck on judge not lest I be judged and just minding my own business, then I’m ignoring my Christian responsibilities. I’m also taking Scripture out of context and not applying the WHOLE text.
But I hear you. I’ve been around Christians who can’t find a nice word to say about anyone and sound holier than thou. I don’t like them, either. But let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water.