We’ve heard it before: “You’re not supposed to judge.” Who says? If it is like God to judge, then it is godly to judge. Paul told the Corinthians: “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!” (I Cor. 6:2,3). We need to know that…
God is the judge.
“It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another”(Ps. 75:7). “You have come to God, the judge of all men” (Heb. 12:23).
God has delegated judgment to Jesus.
“He is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead” (Acts 10:42). “For the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son” (Jn. 5:22).
God’s children also judge.
Judging the eternal destiny of humanity is outside our jurisdiction, but we do make value judgments between right and wrong. The mature “have trained themselves to discern good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14).
We must learn to judge in an age of tolerance when absolutes are up for grabs. Tolerance means everybody gets to be right, except those who speak about what is right. Paul addressed the necessity of judging to the permissive church in Corinth: “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 man from among you’” (I Cor. 5:12,13).
Judging in this sense is different from criticizing. Criticism arises from irresponsibility. It makes unkind judgments for wrong reasons. In this context Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matt. 7:1). He describes the one criticizing failing to see his own sin, blocking him from an accurate picture. Jesus tells the hypocrite to first deal with his own issues, which then gives him discernment for proper judgment (5).
How must we judge?
1. We realize that we get what we give. If we give love, we receive it.
2. We judge carefully. Dealing first with our logs enables us to see the splinters in others. Sometimes we judge most severely what we most struggle with.
3. We judge differently among Christians and non-Christians. We are responsible for our family. “Who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:12). We spend too much time judging the world that is outside our direct jurisdiction.
4. We balance truth and grace. Truth alone is brittle; grace alone is sentimental.
5. We judge ourselves (I Cor. 11:31), but we don’t over-judge: “Indeed, I do not even judge myself…“(I Cor. 4:3).
6. We try to judge the heart of the matter: “Do not judge by external appearance” (Gal. 6:2). This means no pre-judging (called prejudice), the kind of discrimination that has brought untold suffering to the human race and is only healed by the Gospel of God and the power of the Spirit. Two safeguards in judging: Gray exists, and we may be wrong!