7 Principles About Judging Others

Jerry A. Collins

We live in a world that worships the God of tolerance. For instance, our culture teaches us that it is good to tolerate adultery, homosexuality, sorcery, dishonesty and greed. It is often considered morally courageous to do so. Of course, we would expect Satanís kingdom to convince people to tolerate what God does not. What is tragic, is that Christians have adopted this idea of tolerance too. Today, it seems that the most often repeated verse amongst believers is judge not lest you be judged. Quoting this verse out of context to support the worldís view of tolerance proves that many of us have adopted the worldís stance instead of the Wordís teaching. Even in the body of Christ we are permitting sin for the sake of tolerance. The Bible is clear that tolerance of sin is itself sin. God has commanded us to judge one another within the body of Christ so that sin may be confronted and repented of not tolerated. So, what does the Bible tell us about judging one another?

When the Bible teaches us to judge one another it means to distinguish i.e. decide, conclude, discern what is right or wrong. Judging each other is the process of discerning what is right and wrong in each otherís actions and determining the appropriate response which will bring about the best good for each other without attempting to bring about justice which is only reserved for God. What does that mean and how do we do that?

1. Knowing good improves judgment, knowing evil impedes judgment Gen 3

After reading vs 5 God wanted Adam and Eve to know good by experience but evil only theoretically as disobedience to Godís Word. Paul wrote I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil Rom 16:19b. Satan on the other hand told Eve it was better to know by experience both good and evil. God knows both without experiencing evil because He is omniscient and good is what God is be definition. God knew evil as being the opposite of what He is. For example, I know the evils of drug addiction even though Iíve never used drugs because of my knowledge of what happens when people do them. If my children were to disobey me and become addicted to drugs, unlike me, they would only know the good of not using drugs. If they follow me they will become like me, knowing both good (being drug free) and evil (drug addiction).

The result of the first sin was to impede and discolor discernment. they now (1) felt shame 3:7, (2) experienced guilt 3:8, (3) lied to God 3:10, (4) blamed someone else for their sin 3:12-13. These common results of sin make people less capable and less likely to judge sin in others. It is an interesting thing, that we tend to glorify the ones who have experienced sin and assume they have a greater message and more wisdom than ones who have not. God does not want us to grow up by sinning! He wants us to grow up by trusting Him and taking Him at His Word. It is called obedience! We can, therefore, conclude that the more we know about what is good, the better our judgment or discernment and the more we know about evil or sin from experience, the worse our judgment or discernment will be. In other words, the logs of sin in our own eyes keep us from discerning the specks of sin in the eyes of others Luke 6:42. The reason we do not take stands against sin in other believers lives like gossip, materialism, prejudice, sexual sins, greed, fits of anger, speaking evil of one another is because everybody is just as sinful as they are supposed to judge. So we feel like Adam and Eve did. We feel guilt and shame and unqualified to judge. It becomes a downward spiral. The more we sin, the less we discern and the less we discern or judge the more people sin until we arrive at the days of Noah when the intentions of the thoughts of everybodyís heart was only evil continually Genesis 6:5--except Noah who was wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.

2. Judge others only after you have first judged yourself Matthew 7:1-12

This passage does not tell us not to judge each other. It teaches us how to do that. The point is to be able to see clearly enough to take the speck out of your brotherís eye. Jesus does not say do not judge each other but judge so that you will not be judged. Discerning judgment, He says, is risky business. It is similar to what James wrote in 3:1 let not many of you become teachers...knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment. Teaching is risky business too. But that does not mean we should avoid the risk by not teaching. All elders are to be able to teach 1 Tim 3:2, all fathers are to teach their children Col 3:20-21, older women are to teach younger women Titus 2:3-5, all believers are to teach the gospel to anyone who asks 1 Pet 3:15 and also teach other disciples who can teach others also 2 Tim 2:2. Judging too is high risk. First, remove the sin from your own life vss 3-5. This does not mean we must first be perfect or no one could ever keep the commands of this passage. But it does mean we confess our sins, repent of prolonged sin and be in the process of facing them openly while moving in a righteous direction. Second, make moral distinctions vs 6. Godís truth must not be treated cheaply. Third, pray and seek for wisdom to make the rite discernment judgments vss 7-11. Too much damage has been done by those who make inappropriate judgments. Four, treat people the way you want to be treated vs 12.

3. Judge unrepentant Xian by following Matthew 18 formula.

Lest you miss it the occasion is your brother sins. Generally sin is anything that violates the character of God. Specifically it is disobeying the Word of God. So, it is not a violation of my personal conviction or a spiritual hang-up I have, or a personal preference of mine. Discernment is required here of course. So if it is genuinely sinful, then first, we go and show him his fault in private. Then if he does not listen to you take two or three more with you so every fact can be confirmed. Then if he refuses to listen to them tell it to the church meaning some significant group of believers he is part of, associates with. If he refuses to listen even to them let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector meaning as the Jews treated most tax collectors. Cut them off like a hand, foot or eye. It is our responsibility to go to a sinning brother or sister in Christ, anyone claiming to be a xian like this and if persisting in their sin should be cut out of relationship so as not to become a stumbling stone to others.

4. We should never judge anyone by our own standards John 7:24

Jesus makes it very clear that we are not to judge by appearances but with righteous discernment-judgment. We are only to reflect Godís judgments not anything weíve added to or taken away from Godís judgments. What we are never to do is set up our own standards and judge others by them. We should not even set up standards for ourselves which are not those given in the Word of God. If we feel that we must add some self-discipline rules to our lives like not drinking alcohol, not eating fatty foods, having devotions every morning, then we keep them to ourselves. We should never discern or evaluate the action of others based on any rules we have added to Godís. Here is a freeing rule of thumb. We never have to keep one man-made rule to gain favor with God. But we must always keep Godís rules and they will always be more difficult to keep. Try one. How about Be perfect as I am perfect or speak evil of no man or husbands love your wives or wives submit to your husbands. Mans rules always swell our pride while Gods rule always make us humble.

5. We should not judge each other according to our own practices Rom 14

Verses 3 & 12 teaches us not to judge each other about personal practices not sinful today. There is nothing sinful about eating meat or regarding every day the same and there is nothing particularly virtuous about eating vegetables or observing a day for the Lord. We should not judge each other here. The point is, each of us must represent ourselves before the judgment seat of Christ 2 Cor 5:10. Nobody has to represent anybody else. We are only accountable for our own actions. So issues like Sabbath-keeping, watching movies, chewing tobacco or listening to rock music are not in and of themselves sinful practices. Extremes and excesses are a problem but done in moderation is never called sin and so is up to each individual to decide.

6. Objective of every judgment is for mercy to triumph over judgment

James 2 :13 says that if there is a battle in your mind as to whether this is an instance requiring judgment or mercy, mercy must prevail. In unclear situations the Bible does not address be merciful.

7. Gossip and public criticism not biblical judgment James 4:11

We are not to become a judge of the law rather a doer of it.