Judging can be a controversial topic sometimes, in the sense of when and how do we do it. We may have preconceived notions about judging. Some may believe that we are to judge people according to the Scriptures, others may say leave the judging to God, because he is the judge. Whatever we may think or believe, let’s put them all out on the table, so to speak, and test our ideas against the Scriptures. Let’s find out what the Bible really says about judging.
There may be lots of Scriptures that come to mind when we think of judging others, but let’s look at Romans 2:1-3 first. Romans 2:1-3 says, “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man- you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself- that you will escape the judgment of God?” At first glance, it seems to be that Paul says not to judge. He says they “have no excuse” to judge. But what he is really saying is that they should not be judging because they themselves are practicing the same things they are condemning others for. So the message here is: don’t judge others, when you yourself are doing those same things.
Some may point to Matthew 7:1-5 as a reason why we should never judge. It reads, “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.” Sometimes people take the first part of this set of verses, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged”, out of context and say ‘this is why we should not judge’. When in reality the following verses say the exact same thing Paul told the Romans in the verses we just previously discussed. We should not judge those who are sinning in the same way we are. We must always be examining ourselves just as Paul told us to do in 2 Corinthians 13:5.
Another Scripture is 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 and it reads, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”” Paul asks the rhetorical question, ‘Are you not to judge those inside?’ Meaning that we are to judge those who are inside the church. Let’s stop and back up for a moment. Who is the ultimate judge? According to James 4:12 and Isaiah 33:22 he is the only judge. Well if he is the only judge, then why are we to judge those inside the church? The answer is we don’t judge them. To judge someone means, to condemn, to have the final say, to determine, or to sentence. God is the only one who can do those things. We should not condemn or sentence someone to hell, we don’t have the power. If we are not to judge in that way, then why does Paul say that we should judge those who are inside the church? What he means is that we should bring to their attention the sin they are committing in a loving, brotherly way. Not to stand before them and tell them that if they don’t change they are going to hell. But in any situation like this one, we must examine ourselves first, to make sure we are not committing the same sin.
Some may confuse not judging, with ignoring sin. This is not the case either. We are to save the souls of everyone we can. James 5:20 says, “remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” So to just ignore sin, would be to miss an opportunity to save someone. Some may start to ‘jump to conclusions’ when practicing discernment. John 7:24 tells us, “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” We should not jump to conclusions when dealing with someone who is sinning. We must first understand the situation, understand their reasons for doing the things they are doing. To judge correctly, we must have all the facts, and sometimes we don’t. We only see the appearance or sin they are committing. We don’t know, unless they tell us, their reasons for doing such things. That is why God is the just judge. He can see both the outside and the inside of people.
So in conclusion, it is not a sin to judge. But we must judge correctly, examining ourselves first, and bringing to someone’s attention the sin in a loving way. Just remember, God is the ultimate judge, and we must be thankful that he is.