What is the difference between judging someone and simply calling out bad behavior? You may have someone in your life that you wish you could tell how you feel about their behavior, but you don’t want to cross that “judgment” line. Jesus gave us a directive about judgment in His Sermon on the Mount.
“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” (Matt. 7:1-2; NASB)
Jesus is saying that we should not express a negative opinion about others, and if we do, we will be judged in the same manner that we judge. Jesus was NOT saying we should never judge someone’s actions. In fact, in verse 5 He says we can take the speck out of our brother’s eye, after we have taken the log (plank) out of our own eye. You might be saying “OK, what’s really going on here?” Is judging another person wrong or not?
First, you should never judge (express a negative opinion about) a person because of what they are doing or what they have done. We are all children of God, who loves us regardless of our flaws. Considering anyone any less than that is wrong. Even when someone is evil in everything they do, they are not beyond our Lord changing them if it is His will. It is their actions that are to be judged. Obviously, you don’t want to hang around someone whose heart is not right, or who does things and says things you know are wrong. If they are a believer, you should confront their behavior in a calm, loving manner. If they are not a believer, then expect that anything you say may be taken wrong or twisted to mean something you did not intend. With unbelievers, it’s sometimes better to just walk away.
As Christians, we need to be willing to confront our brothers and sisters when they’re not acting right. If you love them, you will not want to see them suffer the consequences of continual disobedience. If you’ve prayed about it and still feel like you need to confront them, then do so in a loving manner following the Bible’s instructions on addressing sinful behavior. (see Gal. 6:1; Matt. 18:15-17; Titus 3:9-11)
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he confronts an issue involving a man that was sleeping with his father’s wife. The church had not addressed the issue properly. If fact, Paul found out the Corinthians had become arrogant and didn’t even feel bad or disgusted by the behavior! He wrote that he had already judged this man (1 Cor. 5:3). He went on to write that he had decided to deliver him to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, and this so that his spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord (1 Cor. 5:5). Paul’s heart was for this man’s salvation, not for his destruction. However, because of his actions he needed to be removed from the body of Corinthian believers. Paul was praying for him to hit bottom. Hopefully, he would then see the error of his ways and repent. It was the congregation’s responsibility to put him out. Otherwise, the man’s actions were going to lead many more into sin and destruction.
As the saying goes, “judge the sin, not the sinner.” Christians are to judge each other’s behavior according to biblical standards. Unbelievers cannot be expected to do what’s right, so it’s pointless to stress over their flaws. All we can do is present the Gospel and pray for Jesus to change their heart. However, when it comes to our brothers and sisters in Christ, we must confront wrong behavior with love and the desire for them to repent and change. That is how we should want to be treated in return. You will be judged in the manner in which you judge. If your heart is right when you suggest the removal of the speck in one’s eye, then you can expect the same treatment when you are on the receiving end of such a discussion. Ultimately, it is a blessing to have someone love you enough to point out when you start heading in the wrong direction.
Have a great week and God bless.