The buzz phrase in our day is, “Don’t judge,” but is that a Biblical concept? Are we never to judge? Are there still rights and wrongs in our day or is that period of time over? Is this the season of grace and we can do whatever we want and everyone else just needs to not be bothered with it?
Here is one of the key verses many use for not judging – Jesus said:
Matthew 7:1-2 – 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.
But Jesus also said:
John 7:24 – Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.
Hmmm… Context of course rules in how we interpret and apply all passages, but bear with me…
Romans 2:3 – Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?
And Paul said:
1 Corinthians 5:3 – For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing.
1 Corinthians 5:12 – For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?
Hmmm… Context still rules, but there seems to be a whole lot of judging going on here.
James 4:12 – There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
Reading Romans 14-15 will reveal an extensive discussion regarding judging one another. Are the writers of the NT confused or am I? My theology does not allow for the Scripture to be in error, so that narrows down the options from my perspective.
Perhaps my real problem with the whole, “Don’t judge me” thing is that often (please don’t overlook that word before you judge me, often does not mean always 🙂 ) someone who is stating this phrase is pursuing some sort of sinful behavior. Immorality, drunkenness, cursing, carousing, sensuality, pornography, and a host of other behaviors have all been granted impunity under the “Don’t judge me” sentence. But should they be given it?
Because I am a new creation in Christ, under the New Covenant, saved by grace, a temple of the Holy Spirit, and many other wonderful truths, am I now free to sin at will? What about the warnings sprinkled throughout the New Testament about sinning, rebuking and confronting one another, crucifying my flesh, dying to sensuality, resisting deception and the devil, not imitating evil, and a host of other commands and prohibitions? Do they not apply now-a-days?
While some will not agree with me, here is my take on judging. Judging implies making definitive statements about the unknown – motives of someone’s heart, thoughts in their head, and reasons behind their actions. This territory is for God and the person alone, and for me to state what they are, puts me into the place of a mind reader – not a good place to be.
In addition, we are not to pass judgment on others regarding debatable or disputable matters (Romans 14:1). Should Christians own a TV? Are movies acceptable to watch? Should a believer listen to a certain type of music, ride a motorcycle, eat at a casino, etc. These (and a multitude of other behaviors and choices) are subject to personal preference and are not directly addressed in Scripture.
Regarding disputable matters, I personally believe that we need to examine our own motives and make sure whatever we do is pleasing to the Lord, is not imitating or promoting the devil’s kingdom, and is not purposefully causing someone to stumble or trip over our words or actions. We are free in Christ, but we do not live alone. All things are indeed lawful, but not all things are profitable. Our actions and freedoms affect many others and therefore we must take that into consideration before we act.
Sinful behavior on the other hand is not debatable. Sin is to be repented of, never accepted, rationalized or grown accustomed to. Arguing about personal rights and freedoms is the wrong discussion in my opinion. Sinful behavior is sinful behavior regardless of the feelings, emotions, or arguments attached. Murder, rebellion, immorality, adultery, theft, drunkenness, abusing parents, gossip, slander, gluttony, or anything else sinful are still sinful according to God’s standard revealed in His Word.
Stating that sin is wrong and therefore needs to be repented of, is not judging, it is agreeing with God and His Word. There are still absolutes in the Absolute Book even in a world dominated by situational ethics and relativism.
We are to grow up as we walk with Christ for the Scripture states:
Philippians 1:9 – And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,
Hebrews 5:14 – But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
Learning what the Scriptures state, not what we want them to say, and aligning our lives with them, should be our goal. Learning how to grow in love, knowledge of Christ, and growing in discernment is a sign of maturity. Discernment grows as we renew our minds with God’s Word and learn to think more Biblically. We are not to adapt our thinking and behavior to the culture around us, but we are to embrace the Scriptures as our standard of truth.
The bottom line to me is that I should never justify the sin in my life, but repent of it as it is exposed. If someone points out my sin, they are not judging me, they are loving me.