As humans, we all have flaws (Romans 3:23).

Jesus is the Judge through whom the Father will judge the world (Acts 17:30).

Jesus’ word will judge those who reject Him and do not receive His words (John 12:48).

It was Jesus Himself Who gave the command, “Judge not” (Matthew 7:1).

How am I doing so far? Have I got the facts straight? In the preceding four paragraphs, I made a total of four statements. Each of them is true from beginning to end. Why are they true? Because they either are direct quotations from the Bible or declare what the Bible teaches.

Some take the truths set forth in those first four paragraphs and arrive at this conclusion: “No person ever should judge another person or group. If Jesus said not to judge, then we never should judge, period.”

We certainly never should judge in a hypocritical fashion. After Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1), He went on to say, “Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (7:5). Harping on the faults of another person who fails to live up to a standard to which we ourselves are unwilling to submit is hypocritical judgment. Jesus said not to do it.

We should never hold ourselves up as being equal in knowledge or authority with Jesus. Dealing with others as if we were the Judge who will have the final say on the Day of Judgment about their eternal destiny is presumptuous arrogance. Such an attitude must be an insult to Him Who has preeminence (Colossians 1:18).

We should not judge suspiciously, supposing that we know all of the thoughts of another person’s heart. It is not appropriate for us to have minds filled with suspicions, “thinking the worst” of others. Genuine love “thinks no evil” (1 Corinthians 13:5).

We should not judge rashly. There is a need to think things through and draw conclusions only after the needed information is available. “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him” (Proverbs 18:13).

One who eats only veggies should not judge a brother who chooses not to be a veggies-only disciple, and vice versa (Romans 14:2,3). In that context, Paul was writing about not judging in matters that are acceptable to God – matters that He receives (14:3).

So, are you convinced? Are you convinced that Jesus’ followers should not judge? I am. The Bible evidence is clear: Christians should not judge. But, wait, there is more. Is there any indication that at least some form of judging is appropriate in God’s sight?

After our Lord said, “Judge not,” in that context we read that He went on to tell His followers, “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). If we are to beware of false prophets, does not that instruction include the thought that we must be able to tell if someone is teaching a false message? Surely it does.

The Holy Spirit charges Christians, “Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9). If I am going to abhor and cling to the correct stuff, does that not mean that I need to be able to distinguish between what God counts as evil and good? Is that not a form of judgment on my part?

When giving instructions from the Lord about how to deal with a fornicating brother in the church, Paul asked the saints in Corinth, “Do you not judge those who are inside?” (1 Corinthians 5:12). Yes, they did judge internal matters of the church, and doing so was not simply permissible: it was much needed.

When God charges His children to expose the unfruitful works of darkness (Ephesians 5:11), warn the unruly (1 Thessalonians 5:14), have no company with disorderly members (2 Thessalonians 3:14), and reject a divisive person (Titus 3:10,11), each of those charges requires that you and I observe, analyze, and compare what we see or hear with God’s truth, and then make a conclusion. We could refer to that as making a judgment call. Just go ahead and say it: it means to “judge.”

Jesus wants us to be humble, kind, and gentle. But He does not want us to cringe in fear and allow those who disregard His will to run roughshod over us. Some of those who are the most vocal in stating that no judging of any kind is ever allowed actually judge those who point out their wrong actions or teachings. In essence, such it-is-never-right-to-judge-others people judge the judgers. Does anyone see a contradiction in that?

Our Lord once told frail, uninspired humans, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24). If Jesus said that it is right to judge righteous judgment, then right it is. Think about it.

— Roger D. Campbell

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