Last night at Sola we talked about a misunderstanding most people have about Matthew 7:1 when Jesus says, “Do not judge.” Jesus cannot mean, “do not judge…period” because he says in John 7:24 “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” Even logically speaking, to say that all judging is bad would mean even condemning judging is bad. But as Christians we often miss what it means to judge correctly. And I happen to believe that Scripture teaches us inappropriate and appropriate ways to judge.
Inappropriate ways to judge are:
- Judging someone’s eternal destiny (even Hitler’s) because that is God’s job.
- Hypocritical judging (which is what Jesus attacks in Matthew 7:1)
- Someone who is not a follower of Christ (that even means avoiding saying things like, “How can those people on Wall Street be so greedy?!” We are fallen creatures and are apart from God until Christ enters us, so why should they act another way is my question?)
Appropriate ways to judge are:
- People who are inside the Church (1 Corinthians 5:9-13)
- If you follow the steps outlined by Jesus in Matthew 18:15-20
- With a love that is both firm and humble
But judging each other and holding one another inside the church accountable does not mean that we become referees looking for flaws in each other’s lives, nor do we become overly critical, harsh or cruel. The truth is there is always at least one more fact, which you know nothing about, in every person’s situation. It is always key to remember one little detail when it comes to judging one another: You and I are not God, thus we are not all knowing. And when we have a spirit of criticism amongst us, it keeps us from being able to properly hold one another accountable or even to meet with God. I’ve recently rediscovered Oswald Chambers, and he says, “It is impossible to enter into fellowship with God when you are in a critical mood.”
My prayer is that our college group, Harris Creek and the Church as a whole will begin to recover the discipline of appropriate judging while simultaneously begin to shed the reputation of being piercingly critical individuals. I hope that we can be a people of love, mercy and compassion that stand for justice, righteousness and lead moral lives. This is possible when the Spirit of God dwells within us individually and corporately. Think on these things.