Aren’t You Judging?
We make judgments every single day. You judge how someone is driving and whether or not you may need to keep a safe distance. You might make a judgement based on someone's behavior to determine whether or not they need help. I had a moment like that in the grocery store once: an elderly woman was looking at a package of toilet paper on a high shelf and I made a judgment that she may need help. I asked and I had judged correctly; she did need help and was grateful. She didn’t jump all over me and accuse me of judging her, but this is often how people react when they feel judged. Judgements are usually behaviorally-based and people tend to get offended when we make judgements that are based on behavior that is unbecoming of a Christian. They may even claim that the Bible says not to judge. But does it?
Let’s do away with what we think we know the Bible says about judging and let’s look at what the Bible actually says about judging people. The most famous teaching on judging others is from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7.
“‘Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.
‘And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.’” (Matthew 7:1-6)
Jesus’ first statement is about not judging others so you won't be judged, but 2 Corinthians 5:10(a) states, “For we must all stand before Christ to be judged.” It’s impossible not to judge people; we have all done it. If you can manage to never judge anyone, then sure, you will not be judged, but for everyone else we will be judged. Jesus makes a similar statement with the woman caught in adultery: he doesn’t tell the accusers not to stone her; he says let anyone without sin stone her. Well, everyone is guilty of sin, so she couldn’t be stoned. It’s the same thing here: everyone judges, so all will be judged.
Next Jesus explained that God will treat us as we treat others. The standard we use in judging is the standard by which we will be judged. So did we show grace? Did we hold the person to a standard God has set or one we made up? Are they exhibiting fruits of the sinful nature or fruits of the Spirit? Are they living a life that reflects Jesus or the world? We should judge our fellow Christians by holding them accountable to the standards God has set, for in the end we will all be judged by Him.
Next Jesus gave an example of how we should judge: we shouldn’t judge our friends without first examining ourselves. Notice that the example is not, “why worry about the speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own. Leave the speck in his eye alone!” No! Jesus said to first get rid of the log in your eye then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye. It’s not a lesson on not judging, but on how to judge. Jesus even explained to a temple leader in John 7 how to judge correctly.
“Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.” (John 7:24)
Jesus finished by further explaining who we are to judge. We should not judge people outside of the faith. We gently guide them to Christ but we don’t hold them to the same standard we would hold a fellow Christian; such judgment would be wasted on them and would only make them turn and attack us because when people feel attacked, they tend to want to attack back. As Paul said,
“It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning.” (1 Corinthians 5:12)
It is our responsibility to judge fellow believers, not nonbelievers. So if you do feel there is a speck in your brother's eye (someone inside the faith), then examine yourself, make sure you are plank-free, and when you confront that brother, have some scripture to back up your claims (not to use as a weapon, but to prove you are judging with God's standards).
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.