Judging Others – You Be the Judge
Opportunities for judging others are readily available. A summons for jury duty expects us to impartially judge the culpability of an individual. During an election we judge, by comparison, each candidate’s integrity. Televised court cases entertain, while allowing the viewer to “judge” the defendants or the wisdom of the judge’s verdict. Pronouncing judgment upon others seems human nature!
Our fondness of judging others extends far beyond legal or civic matters. People are especially good at speaking out against all kinds of things they find offensive. Sadly, their focus may center on the person, instead of the action.
Jesus knew humans would struggle with judging and He contained a stern warning in His Word: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5).
This verse does not mean that we should never make judgments. Obviously, we make judgments every day. We judge between right and wrong, dangerous choices from safe ones, etc. Jesus is cautioning us to not judge others in a hypocritical way. He is telling us to take the log out of our own eye so that we can help the other person. We shouldn’t be habitually critical of someone when our own sin needs corrected as well.
What else does the Bible say about judging others?
- Don’t judge anyone by your human limitations. Only God’s judgments are flawless (John 8:15-16).
- Don’t be quick to condemn someone else’s actions. God is patient, but He doesn’t overlook anyone’s disobedience, especially yours (Romans 2:1-5).
- Don’t attack each other. Try to be a good example so others won’t copy your bad behavior (Romans 14:13).
- Don’t speak destructive things about others. Are you qualified to perfectly judge someone else? (James 4:11-12).
Judging Others – You Lose
By judging others in an unbiblical and hypocritical way, we pay an enormous price. In every case, our choice to criticize another person causes severe damage in our lives. Ridiculing others exposes us to the righteous judgment of God, and we bring more suffering on ourselves by our complaints against one another than we are aware of (James 5:9). Judging people and accusing them is what Satan does (Revelation 12:10).1 In addition to ruining other people’s lives, judging others in an unbiblical way:
- Robs us of hope – Our critical spirit steals our joy and peace, making it impossible to trust in God’s power (Romans 15:13).
- Attempts to question God’s authority – When we judge another, our sins become magnified in God’s eyes (John 8:3-7).
- Pollutes our heart – When we judge, we often intend malice, while slandering another person (Mark 7:20-23).
- Makes us vulnerable to hatred – We plant seeds of unforgiveness and condemnation that take root in our hearts and minds (Proverbs 6:16-19).
- Places us in opposition to God – Our refusal to humble ourselves cultivates pride (1 Peter 5:5-6).
Judging Others – On the Other Hand
Just as believers are not to condemn others, we are not to ignore sin.2 In a sense, this requires the act of judging others in a biblical way. It is important to know the difference between the judging mentioned in Matthew 7:2-5 and the righteous kind of judgment that comes with discernment. John 7:24 says, “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”
If a believer sees another believer sinning, he is instructed to confront the person in a respectful and loving way. Matthew 18:15-17 says, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”
The ultimate goal of confronting the person is to bring repentance. In this sense, we are called to judge sin—always with the goal of repentance and reconciliation.
“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2). God commands believers to point out the truth in hope—and with Christ-like compassion—bringing repentance and restoration to the sinner (James 5:20).
As Christians, with all our imperfections and failures, God chose to see us as holy and blameless (Ephesians 1:4). God also gives us a choice.
- Forgive Others – Let Christ’s peace rule your heart (Colossians 3:12-15).
- Comfort Others – Manifest God’s mercy (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
- Honor Others Above Yourself – Imitate Christ’s humility (Philippians 2:3-5).
- Encourage Others – Gain Christ’s treasures (Colossians 2:2-3).
- Love Others – Let God live through you as you live in Him (1 John 4:16).
1 The Hebrew word kategoros refers to Satan as “the accuser of the saints.” Diabolos is the standard term in the New Testament for “the devil,” denoting those who slander and spread false accusations. – “Accusation.” Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, Fourth Printing. 2010.
2Sin is rebellion against God. Sin is described as transgression, perversion of the right, disobedience, or lawlessness. The consequence of unforgiven sin is spiritual death, but God’s gift to the believer is eternal life through Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23). – “Sin.” The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 2005.
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