Written Word

As a Christian, I should not judge others

“Do not judge,” Jesus said, “or you too will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1) What did Jesus mean?

Our Lord is not issuing a law prohibiting the pronouncement of all judgements. On the contrary, much of his teaching calls upon us to make judgements. For example, he tells us to be on full alert for false prophets who “come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” (Matthew 7:16) We can heed this warning and yet not transgress his command, “Do not judge.” On another occasion Jesus warned his disciples, “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees…” (Mark 8:15) This warning requires us to make a judgement about what is right and what is wrong. Again, we can do this without transgressing his command, “Do not judge.” The church of Christ in Corinth received emphatic instruction to remove the immoral man from the fellowship of the saints as his conduct was deemed to be an offence to God. (1 Corinthians 5) And they did this without violating the command, “Do not judge.” And if we see a fellow believer acting contrary to the will of God we must bring that to his attention; to neglect doing this is to fail in the area of Christian love. Scripture says: “Brothers, if someone is caught in sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1). Such action is not always easy, but it must be done. And we cannot take refuge from this responsibility, or any other of the Lord’s instructions, by saying that Jesus told us not to judge anyone.

What Jesus is prohibiting is quite clear. We are not to take upon ourselves the role of supreme judge, a role fit only for God. What Jesus forbids is a censorious spirit towards others displaying itself in an attitude that is harsh, critical and lacking in kindness, grace and humility. The apostle Paul spoke out against this judgemental spirit when he came to the defence of the weak believer whose conscience would not allow him to eat meat. “Who are you,” he said to the one who would assumed the role of judge, “to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:4) In this context, Paul is saying that those whom Jesus saves he saves irrespective of their food preferences. And since the Lord is pleased to do that, no one has the right to stand in the place of God and judge one who belongs to Jesus. This weak believer is accepted by the Lord so stop this judgemental spirit immediately!

The judgemental spirit must be avoided when we find ourselves being asked to comment upon the eternal destiny of those good people who have died never having heard the gospel. Some foolishly presume to speak on behalf of God and declare that everyone is damned. This is presumptuous and arrogant and the very thing that Jesus said we are not to do. We have no right to step into this arena. Only an all-knowing, all-loving, all-merciful God is qualified for such a task. We need not fret ourselves about their destiny. Instead we can say with Abraham, “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25). And he will. Leave the judging to God.