The most widely quoted Bible verse today is no longer John 3:16. Instead, it is, “Judge not, and you will not be judged” (Luke 6:37). These are indeed words spoken by Jesus, and they fit well into our culture of doing what feels good at the moment. Yet, the vast majority of Christians who quote this verse ignore the rest of Scripture when doing so.
Especially for those who are in leadership in the Church, judging is required. (It’s a part of watching over the flock from Acts 20:28 and 1 Peter 5:2.) In 2 Thessalonians 5:14, Paul says to “warn those who are idle.” How could that warning be given if there can be no judging? It cannot. Titus 3:10-11, states that leaders should warn a divisive person. How could such a warning be put forth if we’re not allowed to judge? It simply can’t be.
Yet, judging is not exclusively for leaders. Ephesians 5:5-6 talks about people who are immoral, impure or greedy. The very next verse says, “Do not be partners with them.” (Ephesians 5:7). Like it or not, making a decision about being “partners with them” requires that we judge their lives. 2 Thessalonians 3:14, tells us, “If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed.” How could you decide if someone is obeying without making a judgment? You can’t.
The average believer in the Church certainly should not judge in a mean-spirited, condemning way. Yet, clearly, Scripture calls us to use judgment in our interactions with others. Leaders, on the other hand, sometimes must take further—and, perhaps, deeper—action in dealing with people who are divisive and rebellious. And to do so requires some measure of judging.