To Judge Or Not To Judge: That Is The Question (Revised)

Updated: Feb 17

Everyone has an opinion. But whose opinion is right and whose is wrong?  Proverbs 21:2 says that “every way of man is right to him in his own eyes.” 

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As Christians, are we, or are we not, supposed to judge?

I’ve heard a lot of controversy on this subject. First, let me offer some scriptures on what God says concerning judging:


John 7:24 “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”


Proverbs 31:9 “Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.”


1 Corinthians 2:15 “The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself judged by no one.”


1 John 4:1 “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 


Matthew 7:1-2 ““Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”


2 Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”


It is dangerous to interpret one or two scripture passages without first looking at the context in which they are being written. For instance, in Matthew 7: 1-5, Jesus wasn’t saying “Don’t ever judge.” No, he was telling the Pharisees, who he himself said were hypocrites, the Pharisees who loved to catch others breaking the law: “tend to your own sins first, and then you’ll be in a better condition to address someone else’s.” Jesus is telling us not to judge others in a hypocritical way. 


You see, there are two ways to judge.  First, we’ll look at the judgmental “finger-pointing way” that Jesus addresses in Matthew 7

The Pharisees were always ready and waiting to catch someone doing something that they deemed wrong; always eager to reach into their robe’s unrighteous pockets and extract a handful of nasty judgment to sling at the wrongdoer, no different than their stones for Mary Magdalene.  No life, just death.  It must certainly have weighed them down carrying around all that burdensome judgment. 


There is a second way to judge.  The bible is very clear on this also.  I have already laid out the scriptures above.  Christians are supposed to judge.  Yes, you read that right.  Christians are supposed to judge.  But, a true Christian will judge righteously. 

Acts 17:30-31

Righteous judgment will bring life, whereas unrighteous judgment (being a judgmental finger pointer) will only bring death.  Revelation 20:4 says, “I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge.”

  

I’ve heard many Christians say, “It’s not my job to judge.” I pose this question, What would happen if we all had that mind set and agreed to stop judging each other completely?


Presidents and leaders would have to be elected at random, since it wouldn’t be right for us to judge their characters as to whether or not they would be good, qualified leaders.  The same would hold true for Pastors, Elders, and Deacons in our churches. What about our children’s teachers?  Or schools?  We can no longer make a judgment as to whether it is a healthy and educational environment for them.

 

What about marriage? It’s not right for me to judge this person’s character so I’ll just have to take a chance. (?) Our children could easily get in with a dangerously influential crowd. After all, they aren’t supposed to judge who/what’s okay and any more than we are. Child molesters; criminals would go free because we can’t judge whether their actions are right or wrong.


Clearly, that would be disastrous. Christians should judge, (righteously) for our good and the good of others. There is no other way to make good decisions and avoid falling into sin. By judging righteously we can help others to avoid sin as well. Remember your mother saying to you, “if your friend jumped off a cliff would you jump too?” Well I say, “why would you even let your friend jump if you could help him?” Wouldn’t it be better to judge the situation and determine, “this is dangerous” and do something to stop them!?”


God gave us righteous discernment. We need to judge what is right and what is wrong. We need to be able to make wise decisions concerning ourselves, our friends, and our families. As Christians, we should judge wisely . Our walk with God, our lives, depend on it.


We should not exercise “finger pointing judgment” but we do need to righteously judge the difference between right and wrong and act accordingly in love. It is important to know the difference between the judging mentioned in Matthew 7:2-5 and the righteous kind of judgment that comes with discernment in John 7:24. 

James 4:11a “Do not speak evil against one another.”


Romans 14:1 “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.”


Our ultimate goal is repentance and life.  It’s the first thing John the Baptist (who paved the way for Jesus) spoke about.  Christians are called to judge sin, but always with the goal of repentance, life, and reconciliation to God.

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