Myth or Real: Christians Shouldn’t Judge
I’ve heard viewpoints from both unbelievers and believers about whether Christians should judge others or not. Most unbelievers I’ve encountered feel that we Christians shouldn’t judge, using the first two words of Matthew 7: 1, “Judge not” to back their standing; while there have been ministers who’ve preached on how Christians should judge. So, which is correct?
I believe it’s easier to understand when we separate the synonyms: judge and discern.
The reason I say this is because as we’ve grown up in our society, we’ve always been taught, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” meaning you can’t know someone just by looking at them. This is also backed by scripture:
“’Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.’” (John 7: 24 ESV)
Even someone’s actions may be misinterpreted. For example, a quiet person may be judged as snobbish, when really, they are shy. Only God knows the heart. (Luke 16: 15; Acts 15: 8)
I’d rather use the word “discern”. While this word does mean “judge,” it doesn’t have the negative connotations that its counterpart possesses.
Let’s look back at Matthew 7 as I truly believe you cannot interpret a piece of scripture without its context.
“’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. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.’” (Matthew 7: 1-5 ESV)
Now that we’ve read this passage as a whole, we can see when Jesus was speaking to his disciples, he was warning them of hypocrisy (a similar caution was made in Romans 2: 1-3), and they need to focus first, on themselves, before concerning themselves with others. After all, we know that when someone tells us not to do something, if they are doing it, they are discredited.
In John 7: 24, it told us to “judge with right judgment.” But what does that mean? There are other verses that teach about what we are to judge (or discern).
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12: 2 ESV)
“But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Hebrew 5: 14 KJV)
So, it seems, to me, that the emphasis here is being able to judge between good and evil, right and wrong, not the person.
God has given us the freedom of choice, and therefore, everyone can decide whether they will follow God’s commands or other beliefs. The Bible teaches us that we are only able to discern between right and wrong, and if another brother or sister in Christ stumbles, we are to help them with love. If someone does not believe in Jesus Christ as we do, their actions are not to be judged by us; that is God’s job.
“What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.” (1 Corinthians 5: 12-13 NIV)
Everyone, believers and nonbelievers, will be judged by God one day, according to our beliefs and works.
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5: 10 NIV)
Myth or Real: This is dependent upon who or what you are judging.