Judging Others according to the bible
Keeping God’s commandments will ensure that we abide in love and in peace with one another, without quarrel. However, human nature is that we judge each other, most times in terms of societal standards. How are we to judge each other according to what God’s word says?
In all things we must consider the greatest commands given to us by the Lord. This is the overarching law that all Christians must abide by.
The Greatest Commandment
37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (NKJV)
Love, above all else, must be showcased in our attitude to one another (1 Cor 13), however, this love cannot exist with hypocrisy (Rom 12:9).
Consider and take instruction also that we are to be kindly affectionate to one another, giving preference to one another with brotherly love (Rom 1210), especially those of the household of faith (Gal 6:10).
Moreover, we are to be of the same mind towards one another (Rom 12:16). This becomes particularly important in rebuking, correcting and restoring a brother or sister in Christ, where the person being rebuke will take correction in humility and understanding from the scriptures.
Purity in Relationships
There is a purity in this relationship that binds us where one does not look down on another when judging the act according to the scriptures without hypocrisy and self-righteousness.
9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. (NKJV)
SOME UPFRONT REMARKS
- As we pursue the study it is important to understand the context of judging someone, particularly within the confines of the scriptures
- Scriptures has been misused, particularly, Matthew 7:1, where views on the extreme end of the spectrum of not judging a brother has been taken, shared and taught, at the price of not rebuking and correcting a brother or sister in the act of sin as a means to help edify and be restored
- One needs to consider where judgement comes from
- If these are ill feelings towards a particular person then the person judging needs to self-correct, repent, revert back to brother love and the conditions set forth in the first scriptures called out in Matthew 22 and Romans 12
- If the person is in general a grouchy, judgemental person on every person and every action, then a change is required
- Lastly, we are to take authority from the scriptures only and judge righteously the person’s actions rather than the person
DO NOT JUDGE!
Jesus teaches us not to judge, and this is correct, however, the context being that the Jews, considered themselves to be self-righteous and looked down on others, particularly the Pharisees and the Chief Priests.
We all have sin and possibly something that we can be judged on, however, the plank is referring to one’s self-righteousness.
Hence, Jesus calls them, and some of us today, hypocrites, for being self-righteous and judging others in this manner when we have not corrected our ways or have humbled ourselves to admit that we have faults.
“Let love be without hypocrisy.” (Rom 12:9) Righteously judging a Christian will firstly be according to the scriptures, and remove human bias and preferences, secondly be done with love and without hypocrisy, not in the way that Jesus is describing in Matthew 7, and thirdly, it must be done to restore the person.
1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (NKJV)
Self-reflection when judging
Hence, before we judge, self-reflection is required. As Jesus has pointed out to the accusers of the adulteress “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” (John 8:7) [Deut 17:7 -The hands of the witnesses shall be the first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So you shall put away the evil from among you. (NKJV)]
This teaches us to first get our facts on the matter correct before we judge, but also that our intentions should not be self-righteousness. There was no love displayed here towards restoring the woman, but merely to test the Lord.
Considering Luke’s account, Luke 6:37-42, he not only mention’s that we should not only judge in this manner, but we should not condemn.
Conversely, Luke mentions to forgive and give.
All of these four things, judgement, condemnation, forgiveness, giving will be returned to you in the same measure that you use, however, the same principles apply here, that plank again is the self-righteousness that we should not be using to judge others.
37 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
39 And He spoke a parable to them: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher. 41 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? 42 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye. (NKJV)
OTHER SCRIPTURES TO CONSIDER
Romans 2:1-2 and James 4:11-12 acknowledges God as the ultimate Judge and Lawgiver. In all these verses we need to heed the stern warning on judging others, that no condemnation befalls us, for we judge according to the truth (authority of the scriptures) the actions of man.
1 Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. 2 But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. 3 And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? (NKJV)
11 Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another? (NKJV)
RECEIVE ONE WHO IS WEAK IN THE FAITH
We are instructed to receive the one who is weak in the faith (Rom 14:1). Jews who converted to Christianity still held on to certain traditions, which included refraining from eating certain foods while observing Jewish customs and bound under the law. While we are no longer bound by the law of Moses on what not to eat, to the new convert transitioning into Christianity, this may still be something that will take a while to overcome. We may experience this today with recent converts to Christianity who are struggling to let go of certain traditions and we are to help them with these along the way. We are instructed by Paul to receive such a one who is weak in the faith and not judge them for it.
Our actions of self-righteously judging someone can be a stumbling block to them (Rom 14:13)
1 Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. 2 For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. 3 Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him.
4 Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.
5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11 For it is written:
“As I live, says the LORD,
Every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall confess to God.”
12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way. (NKJV)
BEWARE AND HEED THE WARNING
As seen previously, Paul again warns of our liberty (in Christianity), or again, our self-righteousness as Christians becoming a stumbling block to those who are weak. Self-reflection is again required before we “cast the first stone” while we ignore of the “plank” in our own eye.
1 Corinthians 8:9
9 But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. (NKJV)
As we learn from Matthew 7 that the same measure of judgement will befall us if we are not careful and Luke 6, that the same measure of condemnation that we give will be measured to us. This is a dangerous situation for a Christian to fall into and one needs to be alert and weary of such a situation.
Serving one another
13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.14For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! (NKJV)
We are reminded though, by Paul, that we have been called to liberty but to use liberty as an opportunity through love to serve one another.
As we have seen Jesus’ words in Matthew 22, we see them again that here that we are to love our neighbour as ourselves.
This love is not hypocritical, but is used for building up, edifying, strengthening to help one another.
Acts 20:28; Titus; Ephesians 4:11-13 – these all talk about tending to the flock and edifying for the body of Christ.
SO WHEN CAN WE RIGHTEOUSLY JUDGE?
Incorrect application of scriptures referring to not judging a brother results in one shedding their responsibility towards brethren who caught up in sinful acts or behaviour. This can be dangerous for the person who has observed such behaviour as he or she has a responsibility towards fellow Christians, and it is also dangerous to the person who is committing the act of sin which is not being pointed out to him or her.
1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (NKJV)
Similarly, Paul commands that the strong ought to the bear the scruple of the weak and not judge self-righteously (Rom 15:1). There is a responsibility attached to the judging, as well as an accountability as a fellow Christian which is an onerous task
The caution, therefore, and if applied correctly would not be a caution, is that this must be done, selflessly, without hypocrisy, without self-righteousness, however, with love and the with the aim to edify and restore.
1 We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. 3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.” (NKJV)
As Christians we should judge, but not for personal gains, not self-righteously, else we become hypocrites. Hence self-assessment is required. We are to heed the warnings set forth not to judge where we are hypocritical and do become a stumbling block to others and to ourselves.
Always acknowledge God and the only Lawgiver and ultimate judge, however, we do have the Word of God, to judge righteously on certain situations to help a fellow Christian to overcome their erroneous ways. Ignoring this responsibility is detrimental to both the Christians, the one who observes and does nothing, and the one who is in sin.
Most importantly, our intents when we judge are in judgment of the person’s act or deed and we restore such a one with love to, as we have a command to serve one another