“Who Are You to Judge?”

“Who are you to judge?”

“Christians are called to love others and not judge.”

“The Bible says not to judge!”

“Let him who is without sin cast the first stone!”

Who Are You to Judge? (Satisfaction Through Christ)

 

I received this email from someone who read a recent post I wrote about homosexuality:

“You are nuts! Who are you to judge?”

At least it was short and to the point.

(And he might have been right about me being nuts. Ahem.)

But he was dead wrong to imply that I shouldn’t examine a behavior, look at God’s Word, and agree with God that the behavior is a sin. Because that’s exactly what judgment is. It’s the ability to make an informed decision and draw sensible conclusions. I would add that as Christ-followers, we do so based on God’s Word.

Many people love to point out Matthew 7:1: “Judge not, that you be not judged.” This statement is made by Jesus, after all. Does this summarize God’s thoughts about people making judgments?

But the thing is, that’s not the only thing Jesus said. Far from it! Jesus continues His teaching with some other statements that reveal He isn’t instructing us not to judge; He’s teaching us how to judge.

In fact, Paul rebukes the church in Corinth harshly for not exercising judgment when they should have (I Corinthians 5:1-7).

But be careful, dear friends, because God’s standard is high; many times Christians exercise judgment haphazardly, without regard to His cautions. Sometimes Christians make themselves feel better about their own sin by wielding a gavel of judgment against someone else. Other times careless judgment might happen with good intentions, but is no less damaging.

So although I’ll never be one to point my finger at you and say, “Don’t judge,” I will examine my own heart carefully to make sure I’m judging righteously.

What the Bible Really Says

1.)Judge without hypocrisy. Here is Jesus’ full teaching about judgment in Matthew 7:1-5:

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own 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.

Did you catch that last phrase? “Then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” He’s not at all saying, “Pay no attention to the speck in your brother’s eye.” He’s saying, “Take care of your own business first.”

Friends, this is so important. When we judge others while having sin in our own lives, we’re not doing God’s work. We’re only fostering division and strife. In fact, Paul says in I Corinthians 9:27 that a lack of self-control in our lives completely disqualifies our testimony in the eyes of others. How can we expect others to believe in God’s freeing power, if we haven’t yet claimed it for ourselves?

2.)Judge without superficiality. John 7:24 states:

Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.

Jesus is teaching here that we must be careful not to judge by the way things appear, but to judge only after we know the full story.

That means I ought not judge someone based on someone else’s account about them.

It means I’m wrong to judge someone based on a single incident.

It means I shouldn’t pass judgment on someone because I have hurt feelings unless I’m willing to approach them personally, letting them know that I took offense and granting them the opportunity to explain. (Matthew 18:15-20)

3.)Judge without condemnation. Jesus’ well-known quote in John 8:7 says:

And as they continued to ask Him, He stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

The people were ready to stone a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. Jesus’ gracious admonition to the people reveals His heart of compassion toward the woman. How much more ought we have compassion toward others, too, knowing the depth of sin from which we’ve been forgiven?

Jesus never denied that the woman was adulterous. He never denied that she was a sinner; in fact, his final statement to her (“Go and sin no more” – v.11) implies that she was just that. But He was giving her a chance to repent and change course. There was no scarlet letter “A” issued by His hand. No permanent mark on her soul. He identified her sin, but granted hope instead of hell fire – and we would do well to do likewise.

4.)Judge if you’re walking in the Spirit. Galatians 6:1 says: 

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.

You who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Paul isn’t referring here to the pious kind of spirituality that is flaunting its self-righteousness and good deeds. He’s referring to people walking humbly, aware of their own sin and repentant of it, and striving to live out the holiness Christ secured for them.

In Galatians 5:16, Paul calls this “walking by the Spirit.” Some good marks of whether you’re spiritual are how often you’re lingering in God’s presence, how frequently you’re confessing your own sin (it should be often!), and whether you see the fruit of the Spirit evidenced in your life (Galatians 5:22-23).

Notice also that the goal of judgment is restoration. Do it with gentleness, friends! Don’t confront them head on; come alongside them, wrap your arm around them, and confront your common enemy (Satan) together!

5.)Judge those in the Church. In Corinthians 5:12, Paul asks:

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. 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.”

“Don’t associate” with certain people? “Purge” them from among us? If that’s not judgment, I don’t know what is! But Paul makes an important point here: we must not expect expect godly behavior from those who are not born again Christ-followers. We must exercise judgment among those who identify themselves as Christians.

Oh, dear friends, this is so important as we engage with the numerous lost souls among us!

The drunkards, the prostitutes, the drug addicts, the homosexuals, the abortionists, the criminals – we must stop using their sin as an excuse to stay away and shield ourselves. We must stop erecting barriers between us and them; doing so reveals that either we don’t believe the Gospel has power for them, or that we don’t care enough to share it.

The very best we can do for them is to point them to Jesus at every opportunity.

Jennifer-Signature

What insights can you offer about judgment? Have you ever benefited from the righteous judgment of someone else? Have you ever seen one restored after being confronted with their sin?

 

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Loving child of Almighty God, adoring wife, and homeschooling mother of three, I am active in teaching and music ministries in my local church. I am passionate about encountering my Savior and about encouraging other women to do the same. It would be an honor to have you visit me at A Divine Encounter!

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Comments

    • says

      Thanks so much, Michelle! I’m so grateful to God for giving us everything we need for life and godliness – especially when there are so many lies and partial truths being shouted by the world.

  1. says

    Amen, dear friend! I have this exact same conversation frequently; it’s amazing how many believers don’t know their mandate to “judge” and offer accountability. I appreciate your words here, Jennifer!

    • says

      Thanks for your encouragement, Holly! Many Christians are ignoring and abusing God’s standards, which unfortunately makes this a distasteful subject. I appreciate your idea of offering accountability; I think that’s a great way of looking at our responsibility to each other.

  2. Joey says

    I think making informed decisions to draw sensible conclusions relating to handling/addressing specific situations is very different from casting judgements about others based on personal opinions and beliefs.

    By saying that you are entitled to judge just because you are Christian, you are granting yourself [a false] authority to place yourself on a higher pedestal amongst believers and non-believers, thus violating many other teachings that the bible promotes, such as humility, equality and love.

    1 Corinthians 13:1-8
    If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

    Galatians 3:28 – There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

    The quotes from the bible you used in this blog post all suggest that before you can even begin to THINK about judging others you have to start with yourself first. And because we are not saints nor angels, judging ourselves becomes a continuous process lasting throughout our entire lives. Therefore leaving no time, or reason to judge others.

    Jesus says “Judge NOT, that you be NOT judged.” while further pointing out the consequences that come with judging others: “or with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own 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.”

    John 7:23: “Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” – Again, Jesus points out how they are wrongfully judging what he is doing while not examining the hypocrisy behind their own actions. You can’t just take “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment” out of context.

    John 8:7: And as they continued to ask Him, He stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” – This message makes Jesus’ intention very clear that you should first look at yourself before you can start judging others. He said this because He knew there was no one amongst them who was completely sin free.

    Galatians 6-2: ” Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
    Carry each other’s burdens – this is VERY FAR from “Judge if you are walking in the spirit” I’m not sure how you can claim to carry other’s burdens by judging them?

    Corinthians 5:12, “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. 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.” – This is actually referring to “Brothers & Sisters” – Christians themselves who are immoral. Which points again at how even the believers & followers fall into sin, therefore you should not treat the believers & non-believers differently.

    And of course there are some very strong teachings against the act of judgement that you didn’t mention on your blog:

    James 4:11-12
    Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbour?

    Romans 2:1-3
    Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.

    • says

      Hi, Joey! Thanks for your thoughtful and respectful reply.

      I believe one root of our differing perspectives hinges on the definition of judgment. As I state in my introduction, I’m defining judgment as examining a behavior, looking at God’s Word, and agreeing with God that the behavior is a sin. I mean no more or less by it than that. Christ-followers should not be establishing absolute standards; God does that. I never advocated “casting judgements about others based on personal opinions and beliefs.” Christ-followers should reserve judgment for sins specifically addressed in the Bible. It’s dangerous (and sinful) territory when we try to hold others to a standard set by faulty and flawed humans rather than by God.

      Christ-followers also should not be issuing final condemnation and punishment; God does that. And that brings me to another area of fundamental misunderstanding between us: the manner with which Christ-followers are to judge. In point #3, I specifically address the importance of compassion and hope without condemnation, as exemplified by Jesus. In point #4, I refer to humility and gentleness, and the goal of restoration. I also advocate not confronting people head-on, but coming alongside them. I’m not advocating a harsh, judgmental attitude or a critical spirit whatsoever.

      I believe the final fundamental disagreement we have is the ability for Christ-followers to be free from the “logs in our eyes.” I’m so thankful for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which purchased our freedom from sin’s penalty in eternity and freedom from its power right now. Romans 6 sheds so much light on this beautiful truth. While I will never be completely sinless on this side of heaven, Jesus died and rose again that I might walk in “newness of life” (Romans 6:4) and that I might be “no longer enslaved to sin” (Romans 6:7). Verse 12 goes on to say that we must not let sin reign in our bodies, and verse 14 says that sin has no dominion over us. Hallelujah! So while I will never be completely sinless, I can be free from known sin through confession and repentance (I John 1:9) and free from enslavement to habitual sins through claiming the power of blood of Jesus Christ. These are the logs Jesus was referring to, and praise God, by His grace, they can be removed. And then, as Jesus says in Matthew 7, we’ll be able to see clearly to help others.

      Thank you for pointing out the passage in James 4. This is precisely the kind of judgment I advocate against in this post – the kind that speaks evil and harshly against someone in order to condemn and cast final judgment. The same author says later: “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (5:20). This is the kind of judgment I’m upholding; the kind that 1)recognizes sin for what it is, 2)humbly comes alongside one who has been overtaken in sin and helps them identify it, and 3)urges that person toward repentance, offering compassion and hope through the forgiveness available from God through Jesus Christ.

      I realize this perspective is foreign to our society that’s so inundated with moral relativism today. But righteous judgment in accordance with the Bible’s teachings can be one of the most loving things we can do for a brother or sister in Christ. As I stated in my introduction, however, God’s standards for righteous judgment are high, and many Christians are ignoring them – for which God will hold them accountable.

      Thank you again for sharing your perspective. I hope these points have helped to clarify my position based on the authority of God’s Word.

  3. says

    May I suggest you read Unoffendable by Brent Hansen. Everything you say is based on Scripture however when is there a day that goes by that we do not sin in our lives. We sin everyday, Yes when our lives are free from the huge log in our eyes then we can pass judgement on others. I am not there and I don’t know anyone who is even remotely close to being there.

    • says

      Hi, Terra! Thanks so much for reading, and for taking the time to reply. You’re so right that we sin every day. But I’m so thankful for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which purchased our freedom from sin’s penalty in eternity and freedom from its power right now! Romans 6 sheds so much light on this beautiful truth. While I will never be completely sinless on this side of heaven, Jesus died and rose again that I might walk in “newness of life” (Romans 6:4) and that I might be “no longer enslaved to sin” (Romans 6:7). Verse 12 goes on to say that we must not let sin reign in our bodies, and verse 14 says that sin has no dominion over us. Hallelujah! So while I will never be completely sinless, I can be free from known sin through confession and repentance (I John 1:9) and free from enslavement to habitual sins through claiming the power of blood of Jesus Christ. These are the logs Jesus was referring to, and praise God, by His grace, they can be removed.

  4. says

    Jennifer, thanks for sticking to the Word in this post! I think so often we hear about “judging” and the context is always negative, especially in today’s world. What some fail to understand, though, is that God’s judging is not like man’s judging. And biblical judging is not like the world’s judging. That word has been so corrupted by our world that people take offense just at the mention of it without even listening to the context in which it’s being used. I appreciate your grace-based approach to this issue!
    Jen 🙂

    • says

      I agree whole-heartedly, Jen! It’s a touchy subject, for sure, and misunderstandings abound. Thanks for hearing my heart here, and for your encouragement!

  5. says

    Well said! So full of grace and truth, thank you for this, it was absolutely perfect. I’m sure it wasn’t easy to write but I am so blessed that you did! Isn’t God’s Word the best??!!

    • says

      Hi, Tiffany! You’re right – writing about such “hot topics” is challenging, for sure. I’m so thankful for God’s Word, which provides timeless, rock-solid truth. Where would we ever be without it? Thanks so much for reading. 🙂

  6. says

    This is one of the best explanations I’ve read on judgment. The ” judge not” verse is one of the most misused, in my opinion. We all make judgments between right and wrong everyday. If someone stole from our home we would call him a thief. That would be a judgment of his wrong doing, and we would expect him to pay for his crime. That wouldn’t be a plank for most of us, unless we are thieves.

    • says

      I agree with you about people misusing that passage, Audrey. A proper understanding of God’s Word can only happen as we look at it in context. Scripture explains Scripture, so it’s also important to consider the entirety of the Bible’s teachings when we analyze specific verses. Thank you for reading, and for taking the time to share your thoughts!

  7. Pam Plachte says

    Opinions are judgements. We readily share them every day. Sometimes those opinions actually say to the outside world we don’t love you. That shows we are not right with God. If He loved us first, then we too need to love first. Jesus died for every human being, so when He breathed life into us, we were connected thru Him. God has already judged about homosexuality. It is finished! As a Christ follower we are urged to love others, as they are. The true test of faith, for me, is to see people as He sees them. Depending on which laws you follow, whether they be church doctrine or the 10 Commandments or better yet Jesus ‘ commandments, those are where you base your ‘judgements’. Myself, I opt for The Jesus way. When He said it is finished! He meant it…. I am to see others with the eyes that see the value in them, regardless of their sin. I am a Love Abiding follower, reformed, set free! I no longer have to have an opinion, no longer have to share an opinion about their sins. Letting Jesus teach them, thru His Word.
    Personally, I would not have plastic surgery, however, for those that choose to alter or not face reality of the aging process, is in a nutshell, not in my realm of responsibility. I love them, regardless. The whole abortion issue, the same. Paul was not transformed until after he murdered. Jesus asked God to forgive those who murdred Him. He died for those lost in sin!
    Abortion is reality in this world, one of the evils that God allows. There is room for Jesus every step of the way. The unplanned pregnancy….accept it…..a child is born. The girl who contemplates abortion…. Why? To hide this sin out of shame, which comes from judgement. For financial reasons? The environment she lives in, do they know they are of value to God? If they are unable to provide for that child, they then may need welfare (charity). The political climate now shames people instead of encouraging, so even if she chooses the abortion for her reasons, Jesus still forgives, does He not? So, now there are two or three sins that can and will be forgiven…. Christ died for her! Now as a Love Abiding Christian, I may not know about anything until that abortion has taken place, so, I love her, see she has a value as a child of God, share the Gospel….that is it! Let her read it for herself, see that God loved her all along….from the minute she was born…..only then can we reconcile it back to God. Sometimes the bigger the sinner, leads to more people like Paul!
    Sometimes, we try to play God by fighting evil, yet the evil tongue has killed more spirits, devalues others by only seeing the behavior instead of who people could be in Christ. Personally, Jesus teaches me how to love and if I am having trouble loving someone, that is me, not them. I no longer have Christ in me. After prayer, He gives me something to love about them….first, they are human, created by my Creator, in His image….
    If He gives me nothing else, no other understanding, then I pray for another Love Abiding person to intercede where I cannot.
    Jesus taught me that….not the doctrine, not the Laws of the Jews, not the church member who shares their politics. The 10 commandments are the laws of the land to bring justice, but that justice does me no good if I am dead. Whether killed by the sword or the tongue, I will be of no use to anyone. Those laws bring depression…. Jesus sets me free to love those people the Law Abiding person cannot love!

    • says

      Hi, Pam! Thanks so much for reading and for sharing your thoughts here.

      I agree that a lack of love for others is sinful. But I find no biblical basis for your statement that “Jesus died for every human being, so when He breathed life into us, we were connected thru Him.” The idea that we are all connected into a divine family apart from repentance of sin and belief in the Lord Jesus Christ is not found in God’s Word. Perhaps I’m misunderstanding you – please clarify, if so.

      I’d also like to point out that while Jesus’ teachings and example are critical, Jesus Himself stated that He didn’t come to abolish the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them (Matthew 5:17). “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, lacking in nothing” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). After all, what meaning would God’s mercy have if not for His wrath? This is the whole gospel, and to deprive sinners of the entirety of it is to do them a grave disservice and perhaps even steer them away from true hope of eternal life. Because no one will receive a Savior unless there is a need for one.

      That brings me to the final point I’ll make here. The purpose of the law is to reveal our sin (Romans 5:20) – that ought to being depression, as you pointed out. But it’s the necessary bad news that must precede the good news: “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”

      It’s possible that I’ve misunderstood some of your points here – if so, I welcome your response! In the post, I stated that our judgment should be reserved for those within the Church, so I’m not entirely sure how homosexuality and abortion fit into your comments.

  8. Elizabeth says

    Oh yes I have been judged righteously. Numerous times. At that time I was furious, but when I started growing as a Christian I understood. I actually feel we have a command from God to judge righteously with love. Straight from the Word of God and straight to the point. I always say: “dust your feet” and walk away should the person not listen, but we should be there again for them …. always. But with God on my side, I CAN make a difference in someone’s life. Thank you kindly for this teaching. I do appreciate and God Bless you all for helping and teaching us.

    • says

      Hello, Elizabeth, and thank you so much for taking the time to share with us here. God’s shows His goodness toward His children by training us so patiently, doesn’t He? I’m glad you experienced this firsthand as He has grown you into maturity.

      • Elizabeth says

        Warm greetings from South Africa Jen !! Oh yes I am growing and growing and having friends in Jesus like you mam, is fantastic. I am sooooo eager to learn more and more. Please please please keep in touch, for I need people like you in my life. I started a FACEBOOK group about 1 year ago and I have about 42 friends on there. I do enjoy this so much. The group name on FB is Jesus Chritst our King and Saviour. Plse join everyone and your input Jen and all friends , will mean alot to us.Keep the FAITH and God Bless you.

        Regards

        Liz South Africa

  9. Randy says

    Thank you for this post! It does make me think about how I interact with others. I feel like with all the people falling into society traps, I have to speak out against evil and those who are involved in it! I don’t feel telling others about such things is “judging.” Society now tells us if we disagree, we don’t love them. Far from the truth! I am trying to remember to keep it short and pray for these dear lost souls. It’s hard not to get emotional, so prayers for me are welcomed.

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