Have you ever had someone say “Don’t Judge Me”? Maybe you have even said it to someone yourself. I cannot begin to tell you how many times our ministry has taught something (in writing or in person) and had someone say to us some form of this line.
I remember a conversation with someone following teaching I had done about what God has to say about sexuality. They were very upset with me and came to challenge me. In their words, “The God I serve does not judge us – He loves us.”
This is a common sentiment in our culture. Let me live my life. You’re a Christian. Just love me as I am.
But is this true?
Where It Comes From
Most people who criticize judgmental Christians will quote Jesus from Matthew 7:1 – “Judge not, that you be not judged.” There it is. Jesus said it, and that settles it.
But wait a minute. Jesus also said, “Do not judge by appearances but judge with right judgment” (John 7:24). So we are to judge – right?
Which is it? Was Jesus confused? Did He contradict His own teaching?
We Are To Judge
In 1 Corinthians 5:12, the apostle Paul has just finished judging the church in Corinth because they were allowing sexual immorality in their congregation. They not only permitted incest (a man has his father’s wife), but they were arrogant about it (1 Corinthians 5:2). In verse 12, Paul calls us to judge each other inside the church.
Why does he say this? If we go back to 1 Corinthians 5:6, 7, we see Paul saying that the reason is that accepting this sin was causing something to corrupt the entire church. This should cause all of us to pause. Our sin is not only personal, but it also impacts the whole family of God.
This is huge in our day. We have created a culture of tolerance – even within the church.
The problem is not that we judge – it is who, what, and how we judge.
Who We Should Judge
1 Corinthians 5:13 teaches a particular order. Christians are called to judge each other, but it is God’s role to judge those who are outside of the church. We tend to reverse this order. Read comments on social media, and you will see a lot of energy spent judging people who are spiritually dead and expecting them to live like they are spiritually alive.
Side note. Talking to a non-Christian about sin so you can also talk about the Gospel of Jesus is not the same thing as judging the person. Instead, it is the most loving thing you can do. The Good News is needed because the bad news is real. We don’t judge this person – God does.
Other Christians who are arrogant about their sin.
Paul was not primarily upset with the sexual immorality in the church. He was upset mostly with the attitude the church had towards the sin. They were arrogant and boasting about this sin. He was looking for a sense of mourning (v. 2).
The posture of our lives matters when it comes to judging. God knows we are not perfect people. He is not suggesting we should kick every person out because they sin. The person who should be judged is the person who doesn’t care what God thinks about how they live their life.
What We Should Judge
Part of the human condition is that we tend to make a decision based on the appearance of someone. In John 7:24, Jesus teaches us not to judge based on the appearances of the person.
What we are to judge is the actions of the other person. Can you show how their actions are contrary to God’s will? This is not about your opinion or preference (we all have a lot of those). This is about whether they are living in disobedience to God.
How We Are To Judge
Jesus was concerned with our attitude when we do judge. In Matthew 7:3-5, He teaches us to examine our own heart before judging the life of another person. This is one of the significant failures in the age of social media outrage. We condemn and attack other people without pausing to consider the size of the log in our own eye.
A funny thing happens when you stop and sincerely ask God to examine your own life. The sin of the other person does not often seem as big of a deal when you realize how big your personal issues are.
We are to judge with humility and a sense of sadness. Unfortunately, some of us take great joy and feel much better about ourselves once we have laid into someone else.
Surviving the Don’t Judge Me Culture
The next time someone tells you not to judge them, start by asking yourself if you are following the who, what, and how to judge. Don’t get defensive because you may be living in disobedience to God yourself. However, if you are judging rightly – ask them why they feel judged and where they get the idea we shouldn’t judge each other.
The next time you want to tell someone “Don’t judge me” – be humble enough to ask yourself if they have a point. Turn to God and ask for Him to change you.