Mr. Rockefeller and I started reading our Bibles together while we were dating. Something that we both started to realize at the same time, was that we were not supposed to be judging the sins of others. We were coming to a realization about not judging nonbelievers, in particular. We are not the judges of the world, God is. Matthew 7:1 says “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” Many other verses in the Bible tell us that it is not our job to judge as well. It’s so hard! But only God knows peoples’ hearts. He knows their intentions and He knows everything about their pasts that led them to this point and He knows what path they are headed on. You do not.
When I talk about judging, I’m talking about sinful judging. There are times that Christians are supposed to judge. We have to judge sins because we need to know how to stay away from them. We need to be aware that sins are wrong, which comes from the Holy Spirit and from reading God’s word. We need to see when we are sinning ourselves, and we need to keep other Christians accountable. This is where “hate the sin, love the sinner” comes in. We can judge sin, but we have no right to judge nonbelievers. We are just asked to love them!
If we pass judgement on nonbelievers, we are just going to push them away from God. No one likes to be told that their doing something wrong. This is why so many people see Christians as hypocrites! We tell others that they are sinning, but they see us sinning too. Remember when people were about to stone an adulteress in John 8, and Jesus told them that whoever had not sinned could cast the first stone? We are all sinners. Only our sinless Savior has the right to decide the punishments for sins and where these sinner’s eternities will be spent. And He’s a lot better at it than we are. If we see someone sinning, we should be praying for them and asking God to show them what is right and how to find Him. We don’t need to take the judgement into our own hands and scold them.
If we tell someone that his lifestyle is sinful, is he even going to know what we mean? Nonbelievers don’t have the Holy Spirit telling them when they are doing something wrong and many of them have never read the Bible or heard sermons on sins. Nonbelievers learn right and wrong from society, so they see no problem with white lies or gossip or cheating for personal gain. Society tells people that the world should revolve around them and what makes them happy. Many people will be confused and offended by you when you tell them that what they are doing is wrong. We need to love these people and let them see us live our lives instead. We still sin, so they can see that no one is perfect, but they can also see that there is something different about us and we have a different moral standard than the rest of the world. Paul explains to the church of Corinth that we should not be associating with Christians who are choosing to sin (I’ll talk about judging other Christians soon), but that being around nonbelieving sinners is inevitable and tells us not to judge them. 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 says “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. 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.’“
Something that I’ve been noticing in some Christians lately is that they are judging other’s behaviors and then using that judgement to decide on how they should respond. We’re like children sometimes. “Well he did it first!” We act pleasant, but then someone is rude to us and we think it’s alright to be rude back. We hear gossip started by someone else and we are willing to join the conversation. We don’t use curse words until someone starts cussing at us. We even love on people until they stop returning the love. It does not matter what other people are doing. You always have the choice to respond in a Godly way or a not so Godly way. Matthew 5:38-42 says “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” When I read these verses, I just see complete love. I see what Jesus would do. But we honestly just ignore these verses a lot of the time! Because it’s hard and we have tempers that get out of control and we think we have the right to judge people who do wrong to us! We’re so wrong. Imagine all the people who would be willing to find out what Jesus is all about if they saw us acting this way!
Now, am I sinning because I’m judging these other believers about judging? We should let other Christians know when they are doing something wrong and keep them accountable. We need to do this with love. Galatians 6:1 says “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” I also referred to 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 above, which tells us not to associate with believers who are not living in a Godly way. We can’t be encouraging their behaviors or letting them tempt us to do the same. So, “don’t judge” is really not all there is to it. Judge other believers the way that God directs in the Bible, based on Biblical truths and a loving motive. Avoid sinful judging and judging people who don’t know any better.