To Judge Or Not To Judge
To Judge Or Not To Judge
It is very popular today to accuse Christians of being judgmental. When a follower of Jesus chooses to do (or not do) certain things that other people engage in regularly, they are many times labeled as prideful or exclusive. It is often wrong to base our opinions of someone’s standing with God on what we can observe of their choices or abilities, but there are other times when our ability to discern is crucial.
The Bible is filled with wisdom regarding when we should judge others and when we should refrain. So the question begs an answer: “To judge or not to judge?”
In 1 Corinthians Paul is addressing a young church living in the middle of a very immoral society. Corinth, a principal city of Greece, was located in the middle of an important trade route between Asia, Italy, and the west. It’s a pivotal position in the world while bringing many different travelers and wealth, also brought many ungodly and lewd influences.
The Gentile believers of Corinth were struggling with many different sin issues that had silently infiltrated the church. In pride, they had made judgments about some of the spiritual leaders. They were choosing sides and boasting about being followers of Paul, or followers of Apollos, or followers of other spiritual leaders as they so chose. Paul, in his letter, corrected their wrong focus. Each of these leaders was a servant of Christ entrusted with the mysteries of God. It was inappropriate to pass judgment on them based on their speaking abilities or personal preferences. Neither was it appropriate for the Corinthians to try to develop sects within the church based on the personalities of the various leaders. Instead, the believers were to wait for the Lord, Who knows men’s hearts. In His time He would reveal the hidden motives and give praise where it was due.
Though Paul warned the believers not to judge the motives of men’s hearts who have no apparent sin issues, he reversed his rebuke in the next chapter. Here Paul chastised the believers for not judging an immoral situation in their church body. It seems that the church was ignoring the ungodly behavior of one of the members, and quite possibly even condoning it. Though Paul was not present with them physically, he stated that he had already judged the man who was involved in this sin. His verdict on the situation was very harsh for the purpose of bringing the accused to true repentance and thus saving his soul.
Paul went on to state that the Christian’s purpose is not to judge those who are not members of the church body, but only those who are so-called “brothers” in the faith, but who are living in sin. The church’s ignoring these severe improprieties will lead to the risk that the sin attitude might spread and infect the rest of the church, just as one rotten apple will inevitably affect the rest of the apples in the basket.
So how does a follower of Jesus answer the question, “To judge or not to judge?” It takes a lot of wisdom and should not be taken lightly. The only way to have the right discernment is to seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit. As we study God’s word diligently and pray earnestly for guidance, God will open our eyes to the truth of each situation. He will show us areas in our own lives that we need to address. In this way, regardless of what the world says about us, we will be able to decide: “To judge or not to judge?”
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