We’ve all heard it before. We’ve all had the experience. That experience when we comment or bring to light a sinful action of a believer, or even a group of people making sinful choices. Then we hear someone say
“Well, you just can’t judge them. Christ tells us not to.”
With many passages of scripture, there are “put ons” and “put offs”. Paul is excellent at demonstrating this principle of teaching. We often focus on one, but not the other. Unfortunately, this is like eating spagettin with the sauce on one plate, and the noodles on the other. You can eat each separately, but the two foods are meant to be eaten together. Until that happens, your meal will be lacking in fully understanding of what spagetti actually tastes like. Same principle here.
Scripture talks a lot about judging. Let’s look at a few verses shall we?
Jesus answered and said to them, “I did one work, and you all marvel. 22 Moses therefore gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath? Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” ~John 7:21-24 (NKJV)~
And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. ~2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 (NKJV)~
Based on the context of those verses, it is quite clear we are indeed supposed to judge others. We should judge according to the righteous standards of the bible. If we see fruit of a Christian, the verse in second Thessalonias say we are to admonish him. Admonishment, or verbal correction, cannot happen until we have made the judgement of the person is doing wrong. This practice, when done in Christian love and concern, actually brings about grace and repentance in the body of Christ. Judging can be beneficial when done in the right way.
This leads into the whole concept of correcting a brother in christ. I have heard numerous times, “I know what ______ is doing is wrong, but we are called not to judge.” Do you now see the fallacy and how Satan has crept into the church to twist the very idea of biblical discipline? I find it illogical when someone says “you are being judgemental to that person“, as that statement is judgmental as well.
You see, it is virtually impossible NOT to judge someone. Rather, we do. Each and everyday. How we judge them is they key.
Now, I know what you are thinking. “What about Mathew 7?” Am I right? Let’s look at that set of verses.
“Judge not, that you be not judged. 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.” Mathew 7: 1-5 (NKJV)
Most people just use one verse here, and that is where problems arise. Rarely are verses meant to be read alone. Rather, passages must be read in full to understand the context. So, looking at this passage in context, what does Jesus mean when He says “judge not lest you be judged”. I fully believe he cannot mean “don’t judge” as he would be contradicting himself in John. Which would make him imperfect.
Instead, Christ is saying we should be extremely careful when we judge, because we ourselves will be judged with the same standard. Additionally, We need to judge ourselves before we judge others, to avoid being a hypocrite. No one is ever going to have everything perfectly together, but I am pretty sure the precedent is clear here, you need to be striving and walking in a manner which is honoring to Christ before judging a brother or sister in christ.
So, based on my interpretation of scripture, we are indeed called to judge the fruit of another’s actions. We do need to be cautions, and perhaps even hesitant in doing so, so we might first examine ourselves regarding that action, and be sure we are holding ourselves up to an equal standard.
Those are my thoughts, what are yours?