Updated: Jan 26
"Brothers, even if a man is caught in some fault, you who are spiritual must restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to yourself so that you also aren’t tempted." - Galatians 6:1 (WEB)
A couple weeks ago, I came across a question someone posted on social media. The question was, "What do you think the most twisted verse in the entire Bible is?" After some consideration, I finally answered, "Matthew 7:1."
We often hear the Bible verse, "Judge not, lest ye be judged," (Matthew 7:1) preached at us by both believers and non-believers alike. Why do you suppose this is?
Because no one wants to be told they are wrong. The people who use this verse, like to wrongly state that "they are being judged," even if what they are doing is clearly misguided.
Time and time again, the "Judge Not" verse has been twisted and used to make Christians look like hypocritical fools. The fact is, no one understands this verse, and no one really cares to. It is easier for a person to just do whatever they want and then be able to say, "Only God can judge me!" as if they understand anything about the Bible. But when Jesus proclaimed this verse, he was not telling people to use it against each other! Far from it! Instead, He was asking each person to examine themselves and check where their heart is before judging another person!
This is evident because of what Jesus says only a verse later:
For just as you [hypocritically] judge others [when you are sinful and unrepentant], so will you be judged; and in accordance with your standard of measure [used to pass out judgment], judgment will be measured to you. Why do you look at the [insignificant] speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice and acknowledge the [egregious] log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me get the speck out of your eye,’ when there is a log in your own eye? You hypocrite (play-actor, pretender), first get the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
In other words, if you are not hypocritically accusing another person, it isn't necessarily wrong to judge that person's sin. However, you must, must, must have absolute certainty that you are not committing the same sin yourself. And I should mention that there is also a tactful way to guide someone to the truth. Just telling a person that they are wrong and a sinner, probably won't do much to help them. They will mainly just end up hating you. However, if you are able to tactfully help someone see their err, you may be able to guide that person back onto a right and good path... not to mention gain a lifelong friend.
In fact, there are multiple instances of healthy, accurate ways to judge and guide others in the Bible:
Paul says this in 1 Corinthians 5:12 - It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning.
Jesus says in John 7:24 - Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
John says in 1 John 4:1 - Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:15 - We who have the Spirit are able to make judgments about all these things. But anyone without the Spirit is not able to make proper judgments about us.
In conclusion, judging is not always wrong. There are times and instances that judging is both important and necessary. The church body is not supposed to allow false teachers and preachers within our churches. We also aren't supposed to tolerate sin in the church, otherwise many people might be led astray from God's Word. We are supposed to help those who are being led astray, and not just ignore them (or sadly, cheer them on as many churches like to do.) We are supposed to guide people constantly to the truth. That is the purpose of the church, and that is the purpose of the Bible. That EVERYONE should come to know the truth about Jesus.
Telling people the truth is the greatest way we can show our love to them.
Check out one of my latest episodes about this topic on the P40 Ministries Podcast: