Webster's dictionary defines the act of judging as:
"to form an opinion about, through careful weighing of evidence and testing of premises."Therefore, the act of judging is merely the process of evaluation/assessment that people naturally employ everyday to determine what is true. We make snap judgements everyday with regards to, what we should wear each day, taking into consideration the weather or occasion, we judge the credibility of others and decide if we want to deal with them or not, we judge if a school is right or wrong for a child, we mediate in quarrels between our children or friends, and evaluate what went wrong, and so on. For us as humans, the objective of our judgement, should be to ascertain what went wrong, with the aim of correction. Our focus is on the action that necessitated the judgement in the first place. However, as human beings, there is a real danger of making judgements based on our perceptions, motives, and understandings alone, which limits our judgement and sometimes makes it subjective. This explains why two people could draw different conclusions from the same situation. Hence, the big question under-girding the 'thou shall not judge stance' remains, 'What makes you think your judgements are objective and sure, and is not rooted in your human opinion? So, do we have the right to judge?
Yes! We can judge others. In Zechariah 3:7, the authority to judge has been given to those who obey God. It states:
"Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by."Some buzz words that others will most likely throw at you, are: Who are you to judge? Judge not lest you be judged, show tolerance. In our society, the, 'thou shall not judge' admonition, is often virtually used as a gag order over those who dare to speak out against popular and accepted world practices which contradict God's word. This admonition is also bandied around by Christians as well when questionable doctrines/practices in church are examined. When people do as they like, without any checks in place, there is bound to be lawlessness-which is what the devil wants. You are not judging when you voice your opinion; everyone is entitled to an opinion. There is a thin line between voicing an opinion and judging, but the two should not be confused because there are different things. Judgement, as a legal parlance, is a final action after a series of hearings. It is usually a final step in the legal process, and not the first step; before judgement, there are series of warnings. The Bible does let us know that we can judge those within the church. 1 Cor 5:9 says:
"What business is it of yours to judge the heathen, God will do that. It is our business to judge those inside the church."Let us see an example of how sexual immorality was judged in the church. 1 Cor 5:11-13 states:
"But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat." 12 "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked man from among you." NIVIn the execution of Judgement, action is required. Mere talk, or opinion does not suffice.
Rev 2:20 "Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality..." NIVFrom these scriptures, you can see an instance of a sin -sexual immorality- and how judgement was supposed to be executed. The sin of sexual immorality was totally not acceptable, and the sexually immoral, was to be put out of the church; but if you speak out against someone who has committed a sexual sin, for instance, and say that what the person did is not good, some mouth 'thou shalt be tolerant and not judge' at you.
1 Cor 6:2-5 says:
"Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? 4 If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? 5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren?" NKJVWithin the church, we have the right to judge sin, but outside the church, we are to warn the world about right and wrong and its consequences; warning someone about the consequences of sin, is not judgement. It is even recorded in the Bible that there are instances where it is even necessary to name those who are in error as a safeguard for others whom they would have influenced negatively.
"But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already: and overthrow the faith of some." II Timothy 2:16-Also I Timothy 1:19-20; I Timothy 5:20-21; II Timothy 4:10; Galatians 2: 11-14; II Timothy 4: 14-15; III John 1:9If we see a brother or sister do wrong and refuse to say anything because we do not want to 'judge,' we demonstrate a lack of love because that wrong could eventually lead them away from the faith. God uses our fellowship with each other as one of the safeguards against drifting from the faith. Hence, we owe it to each other as Christians to judge ungodly behavior. If you are a parent, the MD/CEO of an organization, head of a department, teacher in a school, older sibling to others, friend, and so on, you are a judge automatically because at some point, you will need to address issues that are potential harbingers of conflict if ignored.
When Jesus told us not to judge in Matthew 7:1, He was warning against hypocritical judgement. Matthew 7:2-5 declares,
"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."Jesus seriously forbade hypocritical, self-righteous judgments of others. We should not set ourselves up as moral superiors to every other person by saying things like, "You aborted your baby, therefore you are evil, and will go to hell," or, "you quarreled with your friend, therefore you are not fit to be in church" and other related pronouncements. You attempt to make yourself equal with God, when you set yourself up as the better christian than the person you have condemned as an evil sinner. God wants us to love and forgive others, and not condemn them by the manner in which we judge. Hence, in judging, you must not do it in such a manner/attitude that condemns the guilty person and make them feel totally hopeless and useless-that is cruelty. Do not make it look as if you are the only person that God loves most, of everybody in the whole wide universe. God loves every other person, and loves them as much as He loves you.
Matthew 7:2-5, contains a clear warning about judging someone's sin, when you are doing worse things yourself. In other words, if we are guilty of a particular sin, but hound others about theirs, without first examining ourselves, this kind of judging is hypocritical. This is in line with Paul's advice in I Corinthians 11:31-32 that we should judge ourselves first so that we will not be judged. We are to confront sin in others, lovingly and respectfully. Matthew 18:15-17. This is not judging. Your goal is to bring about repentance. James 5:20 and restoration to the fold. The Bible says that we should speak the truth in love. Ephesians 4:15, and proclaim what God's Word says about sin. 2 Timothy 4:2 contains this instruction,
"Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction."In deciding to agree with God in calling sin, that which He calls sin, we should not use our personal opinions as the yardstick for our pronouncements. It should be based on the truth of God's word, like Jesus said in John 5:30:
John 8:15-16 Jesus asserts that true judgements are those which emanate from God."I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me."
"Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me."In order for us to judge right, we must be submitted to God and this can only happen when we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit . 1 Corinthians 2:15 states:
"But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man."Finally, it is not our place to judge anyone's eternal destiny. That is for God alone to determine. We are to judge truth in ourselves, in others, and doctrinal believes, based on the word of God, but the consequences belong to God to enforce, which is, justification for those who are right, and condemnation for those who are wicked. Hence, it is not our place to condemn anybody. I Kings 8:32; II Chronicles 6:23, 1 Corinthians 4:3-5 butresses this:
In summary, as Christians, it is allowed for us to "judge" sin, but it is not our place to judge the motives of others, as it is God alone who knows the motive of a man, but we can judge the actions of others which clearly violate scriptural stipulations. Always, we must judge within the parameters that I have shared above:3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God." NIV
-not after the flesh or human opinion
-with the goal of bringing about repentance/restoration to fellowship,
-presenting our Lord Jesus Christ, as the model/ solution for sin and its consequences. John 14:6.
-You must also be yielded to the Spirit of God
-you must not judge a person's eternal destiny.
-you must not judge motives
At all times, model Christ to others and not your own self-righteousness such that the other person finds God in the midst of their pain and wrong.
Your thoughts for, or against, are fully welcomed, as we are continuously learning from one another, but back up your answers with supporting scriptures. Thank you and hit gently.