Don’t Judge?

judgingThe 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.

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3 Responses to Don’t Judge?

  1. Beck Gambill says:

    Good thoughts, I’m afraid we really miss that truth in the church sometimes. Interestingly I just had a conversation about this last night. I was talking with an unbeliever, who was using a loose version of this verse out of context. I explained that those of us who are Christians deal with people outside of the church with love and don’t judge their lives according to our standards of the Bible because outsiders haven’t signed up to follow those standards. However, for those who have chosen fellowship inside the church we do judge, albeit lovingly, because accountability is healthy and good. She seemed to understand and accept that explanation.

  2. Cheri Walters says:

    Paul gets REALLY clear in 1st Corinthians 5:9-13. The people we’re not supposed to judge are those “in the world” — the ones we usually DO judge! In verses 12 & 13, he says, “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are WITHIN the church? But those who are outside God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” This concept and the scriptural guidelines are so misunderstood by believers, it’s no surprise those on the outside are confused. If there’s no judgment among believers, there is no accountability. We’re supposed to help each other along the road, pull them back from the cliff, talk them down from the ledge — admonish, exhort, and all those biblical words.

  3. LLM says:

    Great post. Everyone (believer and unbeliever alike) seems obsessed with not judging! It is so out of balance. If you keep reading the “judge not” passage in Matthew 7, while verse 1 says judge not, verse 5 actually says that we should judge. It is not a contradiction. The problem is with hypocritical judgement. Judging others while overlooking your own sins. You can’t help others unless you first look thoroughly at your own life and deal with your own sins without excuses, rationalization, or evasion! When we have been humbled by our own sinful condition, only then are we in a position to help others face their sins too. I’ve blogged on this myself in a post called “Judge Not? Like not Ever?”

    Also excellent thoughts by the above 2 people! We shouldn’t be judging the world, but only those within the church. It seems like Christians get this backwards A LOT – fiercely judgmental of the world and ignoring the sin in their midst!

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