If there is one thing the church has in common with the world, we are all confused about judging. We can’t even agree on what judging is!
So Much Unnecessary Confusion!
I’ve been told that:
- Judging is wrong because it allows the judge to feel superior over the judged.
- The people with the most sin in their life are the ones who feel the need to judge others. It hides their sin while they expose someone else.
- Jesus didn’t condemn the sinners he interacted with, why would we think it’s okay?
- Judging others shows immaturity and a lack of grace.
- The Bible is archaic. God is love, not hate.
And you know what? I don’t disagree. I know, I know. I hear the gasps clear over here. But stick with me for a minute and let me address each of the above before we go further.
Judging is wrong because it allows the judge to feel superior over the judged.
This is a matter of pride in the heart of “the judge” and it’s a heart issue that God doesn’t approve of. If we judge as the world judges with harsh criticism, condemnation, and arrogance we are sinning. That is not and never will be the way God wants his people to think and behave.
The people with the most sin in their life are the ones who feel the need to judge others. It hides their sin while they expose someone else.
It’s true that we are great at trying to take the attention off of ourselves when we sin. We see this happening throughout the Bible; Adam and Eve are perfect examples. Eve chose to sin but didn’t force the forbidden fruit on Adam. He made the decision to eat of it then hide from God.
When caught, Adam reminded God that He (God) gave Adam this woman and she gave it to him (Adam). To me, it sounds like he was saying the whole situation was God’s fault for giving him this woman and it’s also Eve’s fault for giving him the fruit. When God turns to Eve to question her, she immediately points her finger at the serpent.
Nobody likes to accept responsibility for messing up and we like having our sin exposed even less.
Jesus didn’t condemn the sinners he interacted with, why would we think it’s okay?
I challenge you to find a single instance in the entire Bible where God told someone their sin was okay (or understandable, or acceptable). Instead, he has always been willing to forgive a repentant heart and said something to the effect of, “Go and sin no more.” That is accepting the person, rejecting their sin. Not the same thing at all.
Aside from that, Jesus is our example in all things (John 13:15, 1 Peter 2:21).
Judging others shows immaturity and a lack of grace.
That is a lie of our enemy simply meant to get your emotions riled and attention off the issue of sin. Have you noticed that when people don’t get what they want they are quick to throw fiery darts and call names? Christians hate to be called immature. It actually shows a lack of maturity when you react in the flesh, don’t know what the Bible really says, or you attempt to judge without following God’s principles to do so.
We are to extend grace to everyone but we can’t confuse grace for acceptance.
The Bible is archaic. God is love, not hate.
Again, you are right. Archaic means to be very old and God and his Word are older than time. To be more accurate, He created time. God doesn’t change. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Both He and His Word are just as relevant and needed today as it was way back when and just as critical as it will be tomorrow.
Absolutely, God is love and not hate. That is 100% accurate. But do you know what God hates? Sin. Sin is knowing what you should do and not doing it (James 4:17). As I pointed out in our last post, Should Christians Judge?, God loves his people so much that he gave us righteous judging to help protect us from the enemy and the sin he temps us with. It is a gift, not chains we use to bind each other with.
We Reinvent When We Don’t Like Our Options
The problem is we have tried to reinvent the definitions of many words to satisfy current culture and not offend. Why do we assume being corrected for something signifies hate instead of love? When we correct our children God’s way, don’t we still love them and desire the best for them? Most of us aren’t trying to exert control and beat our children down but to guide and direct them.
In the same way, judging God’s way is a demonstration of his love, not the world’s anger and hate.
Test All Things
Christians have to turn to the Bible for our guidance, not the world. We aren’t to be worried about being different because that is exactly what we are called to be (Romans 12:2).
God does desire that his children use the discerning wisdom he has blessed us with and his Word to test all things. Did you know that there aren’t many books in the New Testament that don’t somehow refer to false prophets (false Christians) and the need to judge fruit to determine who these people are? God is serious about our using this tool to help navigate life with each other.
The Will Of God In Regards To Judging
How we judge and why we judge seems to be what trips most of us up. When you get down to it, it’s a matter of the heart. You can judge to correct and guide or you can judge to condemn and damn. But you know what you can’t do? Fool God as to your motives. Righteous judging isn’t a bad thing. Unrighteous judging is.
What is the will of God in regards to judging? That we judge:
⦁ Ourselves first (Matthew 7:5)
⦁ The fruits (both words and conduct) of other Christians (Matthew 7:15-20), never the Christian themselves. And only with those you have some sort of relationship with. You’ve heard it said, “hate the sin, love the sinner”? That’s what I mean here. You aren’t to judge and condemn the person but their on-going actions.
Judging the fruit of another is such an important biblical principle that Jesus even spoke in Revelation about it.
“I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars.”Revelation 2:2 NLT
Jesus is talking to Christians examining the fruit of other Christians here and. Notice He was praising them for it.
How To Judge Wisely
Whether you call it testing, judging, or discerning, righteous (godly) judging is carefully weighing (comparing) the evidence of someone’s fruit (their words and actions) to what God says in Scripture (meaning their words or actions do not contradict the Word of God).
Unrighteous (ungodly) judging ignores Scripture in favor of feelings and current cultural opinion. It attacks the person, not just their actions.
With these facts established, how do you judge wisely (biblically)? James 1:19 is an excellent starting point:
“My dear brothers and sisters, be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry”.
Be Quick To Listen
Many children will tell you that what they want more than anything is for someone to sit with them, look them in the eye, and simply listen. I’m positive many adults feel the same way. If you doubt that, think about how you feel when someone never seems to hear you, won’t slow down long enough to even look at you and always seems short-tempered or angry with you.
When someone takes the time to really listen to us, we feel loved and valued. Shouldn’t we be treating each other like we want to be treated?
But we aren’t just to be quick to listen to each other. God wants us to hush and listen to him too! Numerous times in his Bible God says, “those who have ears to hear, let him hear.”
Did you realize that we have physical and spiritual ears? If you allow it, the Holy Spirit gives you the power to hear both. What would be the benefit of having spiritual hearing if our battle is just against flesh and blood (people)? Because of Ephesians 6:12, we know who our battle is against.
We also need our spiritual ears to hear our helper, teacher, and comforter (the Holy Spirit).
Questions to consider: Are you really listening to this person you are judging? Did you pray about what was done or said, trusting God for discernment with a pure heart and motives before bringing the issue up to the other person?
Be Slow To Speak
Again, learn to hush for a minute (Proverbs 17:27-28, Proverbs 12:23). You can’t listen if you are too busy speaking or thinking of the next thing you want to say. Nor can you listen if you spout off everything that enters your mind. In today’s culture, it’s become some sort of badge of honor to proclaim we don’t have a filter on our words. But is that thinking God’s way or man’s way?
When you notice something that doesn’t appear biblical, keep quiet and simply observe. Then pray. When you rely on your own wisdom and understanding, you will make a mess of things. Remember, there is a physical and spiritual world and both are always active. While you are living your life in the physical world, there will be things going on in the spiritual world that you have no clue of.
You don’t want to jump to conclusions and get ahead of the Holy Spirit.
Words are powerful. Once spoken, they can never be taken back. The last thing you want to do is misinterpret something and cause offense. This is also why you shouldn’t even attempt to judge someone’s actions you don’t have some sort of relationship with. If you only see this person once in a blue moon, how will you know if this is an ongoing issue or a one-off issue? Because there really is a difference.
“There is a time to be quiet and a time to speak up.”Ecclesiates 3:7
There is nothing wrong with reminding yourself (or someone else), “I’m not sure what to think here but I’d like to give it some thought and pray about it before I say anything.” This takes self-control and patience. We’ve all hurt someone we cared about by being too quick to speak. I’m sure we’ve all had the unfortunate experience of being on the receiving end too.
Whatever your issue, you need to take it to God before you take it to anyone else. If you have not prayed about it, don’t say it!! This is one of many reasons God has blessed you with self-control.
Questions to consider: If you are constantly jumping in with your two sense or putting words in the other person’s mouth, how do you really know what they think or believe? Is this person having an off day or has their off day become a season and they need help? How do you hear God speaking if you are always busy talking? Have you been kind and gentle in your speech with this person?
Be Slow To Get Angry
“Your anger can never make things right in God’s sight.”James 1:21
Anger in and of itself isn’t bad. What we do when we get angry can become our problem. When we observe ongoing ungodly behavior and have taken the appropriate biblical steps, we expect this person to be grateful and repent. It would be fantastic if that were the case but it won’t always be.
While you can’t control how they react, you need to stay in control of yourself. God has blessed us with his Spiritual gifts, his Holy Bible, his Holy Spirit, and each other. He expects us to use each of those gifts to help and bless others as we do life together. What he doesn’t approve of is our allowing emotion to take authority over us.
“Don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you. Think about it overnight and be silent”Psalm 4:4
“In your anger, do not sin”Ephesians 4:26
When we lose control of our emotions, it does more harm than good. If this person disappoints you and you slip into anger and begin to call them names, you have not just lost control but stepped over the line into sin and will be held accountable for it (Matthew 5:22). You are to be a living witness. How can you lead this person back from the edge of sin if you are sinning yourself?
Questions to consider: When God reveals something ungodly in your life, do you repent and praise him for the second chance? If you would respond in anger to someone judging your fruits, why would you get upset for someone else responding the same way?
Stand In The Gap But Don’t Stand In Their Way
I suggest you pray about the person or situation every step of the way. This is critical. It’s not a waste of time or a cop-out. Prayer (talking with God) is the only thing that will give you wisdom, guidance, and truth to be a blessing to this person. Isn’t that what we should desire?
Prayer isn’t a guarantee that you will get what you want but I guarantee God always listens to prayer. Always. One of three things will happen:
- Sometimes, God will tell you to keep quiet and continue to pray about this person or situation. He might press on your heart that you need to take it one step further and add fasting to your prayers. Everyone is dealing with things that we can’t even imagine. But God knows what this person or situation needs to receive a breakthrough. Maybe God intends for you to stand in the gap about this. What a kind, Jesus-loving thing we can do for each other!
- God might show you that you are wrong and misunderstood the person or situation you are judging. I pray you will be humble enough to accept this re-direction from God. But please don’t leave it at that. Spend time allowing God to show you why you misjudged this person’s fruits. Whatever sin glasses gave you a distorted view of the situation, be open to God’s correction. Repent then move on. Don’t get stuck here. Remember, your life is to be a journey, not a resting place.
- Other times, God may tell you to confront this person. But here is the key…you have to do it in God’s timing, not your own. God is very specific if you are willing to listen. You must not try to manipulate things in your flesh. Our creator can move mountains on behalf of someone you pray for. Let the Holy Spirit deal with them and arrange their circumstances. Then if God tells you it’s time to speak to them, DO IT!
If we decide to believe the world over God, we miss out on his many blessings. Judging the fruits of another Christian is no different than any of God’s other principles. They are contrary to the world’s way (Isaiah 55:8-9, 1 Corinthians 1:28-29), full of love (1 Corinthians 13:4-7), and what is ultimately good for us (Romans 8:28)!
My Prayer For You
Father God, I pray that you would help me be gentle and kind towards others. Create in me a clean heart that seeks after you above all. I need your guidance to be humble but bold as I stand on your principles.
Lord, when you place someone in front of me that needs help finding their godly footing again, I ask that you give me discernment and wisdom as you soften their heart. Provide us an opportunity to have an open, private conversation in truth and love. Father, until then, I pray that you help me to speak kind, loving, and gentle words to and about them. Create in me a heart with right motives so that they hear you through me.
In Jesus’ mighty name I pray, Amen!!