There is a great deal of confusion today over the issue of “judging”. The most verse in the Bible used to be John 3:16. Today it is Matthew 7:1 “Judge not or you too will be judged.” It is sometimes said like this: “Don’t judge me just because I judge differently than you.” However it is said, the sentiment is the same. Our culture has hijacked these words of Jesus to mean something which I do not believe Jesus meant. Most who quote this do not know the context of it in Scripture.
Jesus was talking about the kind of judging exemplified by many Pharisees who were judging by whether people obeyed their faulty and legalistic interpretations of God’s law. He was condemning judging for the sake of judging. He was prohibiting us from judging the eternal destiny of people. That is never our place.
He was NOT saying we are to look at all behavior as morally relative. Jesus then told them to watch out for false teachers. Question: how can you determine if someone is a false teacher without judging? Paul condemned hypocritical judging in Romans 2:1 (judging people while we do the same thing). But he also told the church at Corinth they were at fault by allowing one of their members to live in unrepentant sin. And he asked, “Are you not to judge those inside (the church)? God will judge those outside.” Then he said, “Expel the wicked person among you.” (1 Cor. 5:12,13).
After a funeral service for a close friend up in IN recently, a woman came up to me and said, “I want to thank you for calling me out for living in sin with my boyfriend and urging me to either marry him or leave.” She said, “If someone had not said something to me, I might have continued to live in sin and ended up lost when I stand before the Lord.” There are different kinds of judging to be sure. Let’s not judge inappropriately or overstep our bounds. But when we call one another to live in obedience and repent, according to Paul we are showing true love as opposed to allowing one another to continue in sin.