When reading my last post “A Godless Society” you may have noticed that I was getting rather heated on the subject of judgment. That’s because it is a topic of which I am very passionate and I get emotional when talking or writing about it. There are only a handful of things in life that make me feel passionate – marriage is one, but judgment is another. You see, I think Christians are the most judgmental group of people ever in existence. We know that Jesus is the only way and that God’s Word is true – and that’s great! But then we like to shove those truths down the throats of those around us, saved and unsaved alike. Now, I’m not saying we can’t ever tell people when they’re in the wrong or that we can never judge, but there is a fine line that followers of Jesus must walk if we want to live the way God has called us to live.
I know God’s Word can seem a little confusing on the subject of judgment because in one passage it may tell us not to judge and in another, it says that the children of God will judge the whole world, including the angels. So, let me break this down based on God’s Word.
When to Judge
There are certain times when we are to judge others, though only other believers. We aren’t to judge those who aren’t in the family of faith. Here are Scriptures to back me up.
- 15 You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 16 But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. (John 8:15-16)
- 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. 12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:11-13)
- If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? 2 Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! (1 Corinthians 6:1-3)
- 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire…15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. (Matthew 3:10 and Matthew 7:15-17)
In the first Scripture, it is Jesus speaking. He doesn’t judge people but says that if He did it is because He is standing with the Father. When we judge our fellow believers, we better be certain that we are standing with God and not on our own. What do I mean? If what you’re judging another believer on isn’t specifically in God’s Word, then you are standing on your own and judging wrongly.
The second Scripture speaks to the fact that we can’t judge unbelievers. Why not? Because only God can judge them, it isn’t our place to judge the unsaved. What they do is not against us but against God. He who is without sin can cast the first stone (Matthew 8:7).
It also says that we can judge other believers but only to a point. If they are blatantly sinning in a respect that goes against God’s Word, refuse to repent or turn from it, then we are told to cast them out of the church – not to associate with them at all. But that is the only time we’re told that we can judge other believers. For example, in one of the churches I went to as a child, it was eventually discovered that the worship leader and the youth pastor were having an affair. Of course, they had to be removed from their positions of authority and their families were so broken by the news that they left the church. Adultery is clearly spoken about in the Bible and it is a sin, so if you have a relationship with someone (like friendship or you’re a family member) who is a believer and you know they are committing adultery, you do have the right to call them on it.
In the next Scripture, we are told that we (with Jesus) will judge the world, even the angels, in the end times. Revelations speaks on this as well. However, that is when Christ comes back, not before.
Then we have the Scriptures from Matthew where God’s Word talks about judging people by their fruit. I believe this is the only time we can judge nonbelievers – if they are calling themselves Christians but their fruit doesn’t show it. I talked about this in my other post so you can read more about it there if you like!
When Not to Judge
While there are times we can judge other people, the Bible speaks much more on the topic of not judging others and so will I because I’m tired of judgemental Christians, having been one myself for many, many years and been convicted of it. So, here are the Scriptures that talk about not judging others.
- “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2)
- 37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:37-38)
- You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? (Roman 2:1-3)
- 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand. (Romans 14:2-4)
- 10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” (Romans 14:10-11)
- 3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God. 6 Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other. (1 Corinthians 4:3-6)
- 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. 29 I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience?30 If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for? (1 Corinthians 10:28-30)
- 16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. (Colossians 2:16-17)
- 11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor? (James 4:11-12)
- 9 Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! (James 5:9)
As you can see, the Scripture has a lot to say about not judging others. I’m going to break them down just a little bit though I may have to wait until I write a book on the subject before going into great details.
You Will Be Judged
I believe the main point of all these Scriptures is that however we judge others will be turned back on us, and that is a scary thought to me. I always judged other Christians growing up and even in my young adult years. If they ate, or drank, or watched things I thought were wrong, I thought they either weren’t really saved or were just bad Christians (which implied that I was better than them because I didn’t do those things). But over the years the Lord has taught me that I have no right to judge other Christians on their sins because I commit sins of my own. How dare I judge others when only God can be the real judge?
You may think I’m being a hypocrite because I’m “judging” Christians as being judgemental, but in this, I am standing with God knowing that we are not to be judgemental (as His Word clearly states) and most of the Christians I’ve met are very judgemental people. I know they are because of what they say about others, I’m not just making it up. And I also know because I used to be very judgmental, so I know what it looks and sounds like.
One thing these Scriptures and the Holy Spirit have taught me is that no matter what you believe or are convicted on yourself – what you eat, what you drink, what you wear, what you watch, what you listen to, what you read – those are between you and God, not things you need to put on other people.
I’ve told you all before that I grew up in the church and have spent far more time around “Christians” than I have non-Christians and here is what I have seen most judged by others:
- How you look (too sexy, too many tattoos, too many piercings, etc.)
- What you eat (you eat too much, you eat unhealthy, you shouldn’t eat certain foods)
- What you drink (alcohol is the devil)
- What you watch (if you see a rated “R” film you’re going to hell)
- What you listen to (the only good music is Christian music and you should never listen to anything secular)
- What you read (never read anything non-Christian unless it is considered a “classic”)
- What you say (if you swear or make a dirty joke you’re not saved)
These are the most common things I’ve heard said from one Christian about another in the church. Now, does that mean there isn’t a right and wrong way to live as a follower of Christ? Of course there is! The Bible tells us how to live as followers of Christ and it is specific. That isn’t the point of this post. The point of this post is that it is not our place to tell other Christians how to live their lives or for us to feel contempt for them because we live differently than someone else. We are not their Holy Spirit. Let God convict them if their behavior is actually wrong. If God doesn’t convict them, don’t worry about it. We need to focus on our own lives, our own sins, and allow God to change us, not focusing on other people and if they are doing right or wrong.
I know this has been a long post but it is something I think all Christians (including myself) need to hear more often and may be the subject of another book as I mentioned above.
I just want us to start living the way Jesus wants and to love people instead of judging them. All judgment does is ruin relationships and cause bitterness and resentment in the body of Christ. Let’s judge only our own sins and let God handle the rest.
I love you guys and pray you have a great weekend!