‘Patience and humility’ needed to answer no-judging movement

do-not-judgeCLINTON, Miss. (BNc) by John Allan — One of the most popular Bible verses (I would argue the second most popular after John 3:16) is Matthew 7:1.

It is a go-to verse for many who willfully engage in behaviors opposed to God’s will. Dare to point out what the Bible says about their behavior and prepare to be slapped across the face with a statement like ”The Bible says ‘Judge not’” or “Thou shalt not judge.”

When you’re faced with charges like that maybe you think to yourself: “If only they would just keep reading …”

If they would just keep reading they would be forced to recognize that Jesus did not condemn all forms of judging. More than once in Matthew 7 Jesus commanded things that require judging if we are to properly carry them out. In Matthew 7:6 we are commanded not to give what is holy to the dogs nor to cast our pearls before swine. In verses 16-20 Jesus said they could know false prophets by their fruits.

If they would just keep reading they would see that the Bible instructs us to judge righteous judgment (John 7:24). This is a judgment that is not self-willed, but concerned with the will of our Heavenly Father (John 5:30).

We would heartily agree with them that Jesus clearly condemned hypocritical judgment: engaging in the same sinful behavior as somebody else but railing against theirs and excusing your own. In Matthew 7 Jesus illustrated hypocrisy with the extremely memorable illustration of a man with a beam in his eye trying to pull a mere speck out of his brother’s eye.

We would heartily agree that pointing out somebody else’s sins will not make our own go away. We cannot justify ourselves in God’s sight by comparing ourselves to other people (consider 2 Corinthians 10:12, Romans 2:3).

We could point to these additional scriptures again and again to prove that Jesus does not condemn exercising proper judgment. It ought to be enough to convince any sincere heart that the Thou-shalt-not-judge movement is flawed.

But there’s something else going on here.

These same people who rail against judging know that it is acceptable to exercise judgment.

Without you needing to dive into verse after verse after verse to prove it, they already know that not all judging is wrong.

They know this because they do it!

In the very same breath that they tell you it is wrong for you to judge them they also communicate the unspoken message, “But it’s OK for me to judge you.”

Why would they make the statement, then? How do we respond?

Sometimes the proper response is to point out to the individual that they have just done the very thing they condemned you for doing. Sometimes this is about all you can do. You expose their inconsistency and force them to deal with it. Maybe they’ve been comfortable with that inconsistency for a long time. If so, they need to be uncomfortable.

It will also be helpful if we take a breath and recognize that many people view our efforts as an attempt to condemn them for eternity. You say, “It’s wrong for you to engage in fornication” (you might not word it exactly that way), but what they hear is, “It’s wrong for you to engage in fornication and you’re going to Hell!”

I absolutely believe in Heaven and Hell. And I absolutely believe that any sins that are not washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ will separate a man from his maker for eternity. But when I speak against sin I must be careful not to communicate the idea that I am the one who will judge on Judgment Day. I need to try to show them that I truly seek their good.

We also should bear in mind that some of these people have already heard what the Bible says about their behavior. They heard it from hypocrites. So when they hear it from us today, they lump us into the same category as the hypocrite they heard from yesterday.

The lamentable truth is that some who appeal to the Bible in opposition of the sin of the day are firmly entrenched in some other sin that is now accepted by society. How eager would you be to have somebody hold you to a standard that they don’t use themselves? I’m guessing not very!

It will take patience and humility to answer these individuals properly. They need to see that we aren’t the hypocrite they’ve encountered before. Instead, we are people who honestly strive to be faithful to God. We are people who oppose sin because we want to see others redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.

Conclusion:

  1. People know that judging is not inherently wrong.
  2. Some people are being inconsistent when they argue that judging is wrong and need to be shown their inconsistency.
  3. Watch out for hypocrisy.
  4. Consider your motive when pointing out sin. Am I doing this so that I’ll feel better about myself, or because I want this individual to know about Jesus Christ?

Reprinted with permission from Johnalism.com. John works with the Clinton, Miss., congregation.

 

Randal and his wife Vicki have lived and worked in Brazil since Nov. 1984. They have three children, two daughters-in-law, and four grandchildren. He likes to read novels in his back-porch hammock. http://randal.us

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5 Comments

  1. Tom Brannan

    We must never fail to declare “…the whole counsel of God.” (Acts 20:27), but we must do it with compassion, concern and charity. We can achieve this by “…speaking the truth in love…” (Eph.4:15). Thanks for sharing your lesson with us. It is always good to be reminded of the need to teach others, including judging others in a way that God would be pleased. May God continue to bless you as you labor in the kingdom. Thanks again.

  2. Janice

    Good article and good comment from Tom Brannan. I’d just like to add that people know from what you say and how you say it whether or not you are sincerely concerned about their soul. Jesus said, “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.” Your attitude shows, so be sure your motives are correct before you confront someone with their sin.

    • Tom Btannan

      Amen to that Janice. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Billie D Cartwright

    I am never quiet sure if I should respond to these articles, is the writer asking for an honest discussion of God’s Scripture and Will or is he hoping his mother will notice and tell him what a fine job he has done. I end up not responding to many and then one will pop up with a subject that it is hard for me to not present the will of God as revealed to me and if you disagree please read Proverbs 17:17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of a friend.
    I will start with Paul’s instruction on how to preach 1 Corinthians 1:17 Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words , lest the cross of Christ should have no effect. Also in harmony with that text is 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing word of mans wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of man but in the power of God. If I am not mistaken God says through Paul, mans words render the cross useless and has no power so speak with Gods Word and will.
    Now who do we judge and who do we not judge as spoken by the Spirit of God. 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? Do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth , therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person. God tells us we are to judge those within the Body of Christ and to put them out because the Church is Matt.5:14-16 but those outside of the church non believing people who have not been added to the church by God will be judged by God. We are to know those who God added to the church by their fruits of their behavior. Only God searches the heart and knows a persons motives and he will judge those he has not added and those he has added on judgment day. I leave you with this beautiful verse Matt. 5:46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? John 15:12 This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.

  4. Mark

    The verse “speak the truth in love” has been tragically maligned by so many. It is one thing to explain to a group of people why something is wrong. It is another to just lambast people for everything. I know what I heard, and it included a full condemnation to hell. Why is it acceptable that an entire group of people is condemned to hell for the most minor infraction? Is there no forgiveness? Is forgiveness only for some Christians and not others? Why is it acceptable to condemn the young but not the old? This whole post on judging actions should also deal with having some consideration for the person as still being one of G-d’s creation.

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