SHELBYVILLE, IL. —
What does it mean to judge others?
One of the most commonly known verses in the bible is the one that says “Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matt. 7:1). Some have taken this verse to mean that if you do not judge, then no one has the right to judge you. While that meaning may seem to be good for society, it is hardly what the verse means.
First, Jesus is talking here in one section from the Sermon on the Mount. There were many people gathered, potentially thousands, to hear Jesus talk. They were mesmerized by his words and wanted to know how to not only live a good life, but to live their life according to a new way, the Christ following way. Jesus talks about many different topics during the sermon; loving enemies, divorce, beatitudes, prayer, fasting, tithing, being anxious, the golden rule, and how to have a firm foundation in life. Judging is just one of the topics that he describes.
Jesus does not say to not to judge at all but what he warns against is hypocritical judgment. He goes on to say that if you are going to bring up something to someone, make sure you are not committing the same sin as them. For instance, if you want to confront someone about their use of bad language, you have to make sure that you do not have bad language; otherwise you calling them out would be hypocritical. Jesus uses the metaphor of a person calling out a speck of wood in someone else’s eye while having a log of wood in their own. That’s quite a bit of imagery there.
Can Christian’s judge at all? Yes, but it must be done with love, prayer, and with the goal of restoration to God and to the church. As Christians, you should expect those who know you well to call you on your sins, and if you are a true believer, you should thank them for that. It is not easy to hear, but if you really want to be closer to God, you should listen to those who know you best and know that you want to grow in the Lord.
If you are going to confront someone on their sin, do a few things. Start with, and continue in, an amazing amount of prayer throughout the process, asking God to guide you. Next, read the Bible. If there is a specific passage on the sin, read it over and over again. Also read the passages dealing with conflict resolution (Matt 18) and how to win back your brother or sister to the Lord (James 5). Lastly, seek council. Go to your pastor and ask him how you can deal with this situation, most pastors have dealt with this plenty of times. Remember, the goal is to help those you are confronting to grow in the Lord, your stance should be humble, loving, and restoration seeking.
Chase Smith is the pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church in Shelbyville. For more information from Chase or the church call 774-3636 or visit www.fellowshipinshelbyville.com.