In John 7:24, Jesus said, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” Of course, if there is righteous judgment, there is sinful judgment, which should certainly be avoided. However, it is beneficial to be judgmental in a good way.
In my experience, the verse that virtually every American non-Christian knows and loves to quote is Matthew 7:1. Jesus said, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” I’ve even had some people tell me that it was one of the Ten Commandments. In this passage, Jesus was condemning hypocritical judging. We shouldn’t call the police on our neighbors for playing the music too loud one evening when it is our regular practice to have loud parties and keep the neighborhood awake. It’s human nature to be upset and point out the one time our neighbor does something wrong, and excuse, or be completely oblivious to, our own poor behavior. That is called hypocrisy.
However, Jesus goes on, and in verse 5, He tells us that we should remove the plank from our eye, so that we will be able to help others with their speck. We are supposed to judge ourselves strictly, so that we can lovingly judge others and help them with their speck.
The Judging Trap
Many people who think it’s a sin to judge others will loudly point out when someone is judging. Of course, at that point they have identified someone else who is committing a sin, which makes them judgmental. The irony is that they’re committing the very same sin of which they’re accusing others.
This is exactly the type of sinful judging that Jesus was talking about in Matthew 7:1. It’s a sin to get on your self-righteous high horse, and say it’s wrong for someone else to get on his or her self-righteous high horse. When you’ve removed the “It’s wrong to judge” plank from your eye, maybe you can determine whether someone is judging righteously or sinfully.
It’s not judging to tell people what the Bible says
It’s not loving to hem and haw about people’s standing before God. The loving thing to do is tell them what the Bible says. The Bible makes it clear that if you believe certain things, you can’t go to heaven.
Many Christians might say something like, “I don’t know what’s in someone’s heart. Who am I to judge?” I would agree that we generally don’t know what’s in someone’s heart—until he or she tells us. After that person has told us, it’s a good, loving thing to take the opportunity to warn someone if he or she believes something that will bring that individual harm.
The last virtue of a decaying society is tolerance
Tolerance is a good thing. However, tolerance does not mean that we shouldn’t take a stand against evil. It seems that tolerance has come to mean that the majority must make whatever accommodations a loud minority demands. It often seems the more perverse the demand, the more effective the “tolerance” and “not-judging” card is in silencing the critics. We can let Western society wither and die for the sake of tolerance, or we can take a stand.
Every one of us makes judgments every day. We judge whether something is good for lunch or bad. We judge what shirt is best to wear. We make judgments from the smallest of decisions to decisions that affect our eternity. It’s a sin to judge hypocritically, but it’s prudent to judge properly, as Jesus has commanded us.