Christians should not judge others. Only God can judge therefore no-one should judge one another.
Christian or not, most of us have heard the sayings “judge not lest ye be judged”, or “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. Typically these sayings come from an individual who is either being corrected, chastised or condemned for committing a particular act. And if you’re a Christian you’ve probably heard these sayings or something similar either directly or indirectly. In our culture today, passing judgment will often leave you labeled as someone who is intolerant, self-righteous or depending on the subject in question, hateful. There is a common belief that only God can know what is wrong or right and it isn’t for anyone, especially a Christian, to pass judgement on someone else considering none of us are perfect. But is this true? Are Christians not supposed to judge and is it true that only God can judge us? The answer is a bit of both, yes and no. Although God is the final, eternal, higher judge of all creation the bible does in fact call Christians to judge. Not only does it tell us what to judge, but it even tells us how to judge as well.
We see in the book of Exodus that Moses was responsible for judging the people of Israel whenever there was a disagreement or conflict between them that needed to be settled.
“And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening.” (Exodus 18:13)
Moses explains in verse 16 which showcases him judging according to God’s moral laws.
“When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws.” (Exodus 18:16)
The more familiar verse in Matthew speaks to exercising careful and righteous judgment, stressing the fact that we will be judged by the exact same measure we judge someone else by. It does not condemn all types of judgment.
“Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” (Matthew 7:1)
To drive home the point that Christians are in fact called to judge and that there is an incorrect and a correct way to judge we can look at the words of Jesus himself. Yes. Jesus himself calls Christians to judge.
“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” (John 7:24)
To judge righteously means to judge according to God’s moral laws. To exercise judgement in a self-righteous, hypocritical or unfair manner would be incorrect and sinful.
An example of judging follows as:
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” (Matthew 7:15)
This calls us to discern between men who are of God and those who are not of God (false prophets). It calls us to make a statement about those who are not Godly and in doing so, we pass judgment. The reason why Christians can pass judgment is because God has given us His moral laws. We have the 10 commandments. They dictate how we are to live holy before a righteous and holy God. They call us to make a statement by calling out all that is unrighteous. Merely pointing out that someone is a thief for stealing, or a liar for lying is considered passing judgment. We do this on the basis of God’s moral laws, not our own. God’s laws are perfect, holy and just.
In the book of Acts we see the Apostle Paul calling Ananias a liar. This example shows Paul righteously passing judgment due to Ananias breaking God’s moral law.
“But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? 4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.” (Acts 5:3-4)
In 1 Corinthians we see once again Christians are called to judge not only this present world, but we will also judge the world along side Christ during His millennial reign. We will even judge the angels.
“Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?” (1 Corinthians 6:2-4)
For the Christian, there is no debate that we are called to judge. Judging allows us to separate light from darkness. It enables us to discern between things holy and righteous and things that are unholy and unrighteous. When we judge we are making a statement, grounded in absolute truth. This truth is God’s word and His moral laws within. Christians are not called to back down from calling out things that are unholy and apart from God regardless of how unfitting it is in today’s society. We are to stand boldly on God’s word, exercising righteous judgment in all things. We are called to defend our position and our faith.
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” (1 Peter 3:15)
And we should not be ashamed of our position either.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)
If we are going to be Christians, then let us be Christians.