One of the most common criticisms that a Christian will encounter is “who are you to judge someone else’s beliefs?” Our world is becoming full of people who believe in tolerance. They say that we need to accept people the way they are. “What right does someone else have to judge two people who love each other” we are told about homosexuals. Amazingly, these same tolerate individuals become very intolerant towards Christians (and usually only Christians).
Probably one of the most interesting things that I notice about “tolerant” people is that they will use Scripture to make their case. I am told not to judge others because that is what Jesus taught in Matthew 7:1-5. Sadly, when someone quotes about judging others from the Bible, the passage they refer to is usually taken out of context.
Matthew 7:1-5 says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Many think that this passage teaches us never to judge anyone. But that is simply wrong. The passage is simply telling us not to judge anyone in a hypocritical or condemning way. We are all sinners and need God’s grace. However, Jesus is not teaching us never to be judgmental. Notice that passage says that you shouldn’t tell another about their sin (sawdust in your brother’s eye) until you deal with your own sin (plank in your own eye)? You can’t go up to someone and tell them to stop being a sinner when you do not even try to stop being one yourself.
It is also interesting that verse 5 specifically says that you can tell someone about their sin once you have dealt with your own. So the “don’t judge me” argument actually backfires on the tolerant person anyway.
The Bible specifically tells Christians to rebuke other Christians who are sinning. 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 says, “But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. With such a man do not even eat. 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.”
Paul actually says not to associate with those Christians who refuse to repent and willingly continue to sin. He even says to expel them from the church. This goes right along with Matthew 18:15-17 which says:
“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”
This passage tells us to gently rebuke the fellow Christian before it comes to expelling them from the church. Galatians 6:1 and 2 Timothy 2:25 also teach that we are to gently rebuke Christians about their sin. However, if he refuses to repent then eventually he is to be removed from the church.
The Scriptures above shows us to judge gently and hypocritically those Christians who are openly sinning and not repenting. But, what did Paul mean when he said that we should not judge those outside the church? Naturally we are going to judge unbelievers when we present them the Gospel. The Gospel itself will do the judging. However, we are still to present the Gospel in a loving way. This makes it even more important for Christians to not live a hypocritical life. We should always try our best and behave in accordance with what Jesus taught.
However, this topic does not end there. There are many different passages that tell Christians to combat false teaching. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…” Titus 2:1 says, “You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.”
Each of these verses tells Christians combat against false teaching and to hold on to the truth. 2 Timothy tells us to correct and rebuke when it is necessary. Titus says to hold onto truth (sound teaching). By calling something false then you are naturally going to be judging it. To condemn a murderer is to judge him. To condemn a theft is to judge him. When a parent rebukes their child the parent is judging the child’s behavior or beliefs. Is this wrong?
It is clear that we are to judge others when it is necessary to rebuke or correct them. But it needs to be done in a loving way. And Jesus told us to spread the Gospel so we are going to be judging the world by doing this.