Judge. Judging. Judgment. I hear these words a lot. I hear things like “you’re not my judge” or “you’re being judgmental” or “don’t judge me because I sin differently than you” or “it’s not my place to judge”. It seems as if everybody is saying something about judging.
And I’ll have to agree with those statements. We are not supposed to judge anyone. God alone is the Judge. And He alone has the authority and right to deliver judgement on anyone.
As Judge, God determines what is good, right and acceptable. As Judge, He alone defines sin. He has published His definition and determination in the Bible for us to read.As Judge, only He has the right to deliver the verdict on our actions and words. Only He knows if our motives are pure and our attitudes are right. He alone determines the appropriateness of our response and choices.
And He has this authority and right because He alone is God. Only He knows everything. He is the only one who is perfect and righteous. As Judge, all His determinations and actions are perfect, right and good. No one else is qualified.
So I completely agree with these statements. We are not in a position to judge anyone. But I think we mistakenly sweep everything into the “judgmental” category. An opposing opinion is called judging. Confronting another is called judgment. And we label pointing out sin as being judgmental.
But an opposing opinion is just that – a thought that is different than mine. Confrontation is simply addressing a problem or an issue. And pointing out sin is the presentation of Truth. None of these actions fit the definition of judging.
To compare words, actions and attitudes to the Word of God is not being judgmental. Acknowledging the fruit of sin is not passing judgment. Identifying sin is not judging. Being confronted with sin in our life is not being judged. We are simply measuring behavior against God’s established determination and His definition of sin. Just because we recognize an action or attitude as one that is contrary to God’s Word does not mean we are being judgmental.
When Jesus told His followers “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.”, He did not intend for us to ignore sin. He is not saying we can’t acknowledge sin, say something pointed to another person or confront another with their sin. Matthew 7:1 is not a call to be blind or mute.
He is instructing us not to condemn. He is telling us not to determine another’s innocence or guilt. Don’t assess their motives. Don’t deliver a verdict. If we know Truth (the Bible), we can determine if what a person does or says lines up with Truth. However, we cannot determine why they did or said it. We cannot determine what the verdict is. If we do, we cross over into judgment.
Jesus then goes on to remind us that how we deal with another’s sin will determine how He will deal with our sin. It’s a reaffirmation of Matthew 5:7 when Jesus said those who are merciful will receive mercy. In other words, those who are kind, compassionate and forgiving will receive kindness, compassion and forgiveness. He does not say if you ignore sin in others, I’ll ignore sin in you. He is saying, when you address sin issues, handle it wisely because you are setting a precedence for how I will handle yours.
This does not give us a license to confront every sin we see. We must be Spirit-led and confront as He directs. It must be done in kindness, compassion and forgiveness. Our confrontations, statements and expressions must convey love and create a safe place. There should never be any finger pointing.
And when another confronts us with our sin, we can’t hide behind Jesus’ words get rid of the log in your own eye; (Matthew 7:5) or let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone! (John 8:7) because we don’t like what we hear. Jesus is not giving us excuses to avoid confrontation. In both of these instances, Jesus is speaking about condemning another for something that you are currently guilty of. In Matthew, He is addressing the hypocrite. By definition, a hypocrite is someone whose practice does not match their profession. And that is exactly what the Pharisees were doing in John 8. They wanted Jesus to condemn a woman for adultery when they were guilty of adultery themselves.
When someone points out sinful attitudes or behaviors in our life, we should not go on the defensive and begin to list their sins or quote these verses. No one is perfect. If we are waiting to be approached and held accountable by a perfect human, we will be waiting a long time. But just because they are not perfect and have issues of their own to deal with doesn’t mean they can’t be instrumental in helping us grow. Prayerfully consider what they say. And let Holy Spirit direct you on the next step.
I think it’s so important to get this right. Labeling everything as judgmental prevents us from experiencing opportunities that challenge us to change. We need to embrace ‘constructive’ observations instead of picking up offense. And should we encounter someone who is legitimately being judgmental, we must be Spirit-led in our response. And there is always the chance they are right but are expressing it wrong.
Either way – these are opportunities for growth. I want to embrace them in humility and grow.