– Mother Teresa
Devotional: 3 Ways Christians Can Judge Others Properly
The Bible is clear: Christians can judge other Christians. While one of most misinterpreted and misunderstood verses in God’s word involves ‘judge not lest ye be judged,’ when we take the whole Bible in context, Christians are both admonished and encouraged to judge each other. Judgment and love are not antithetical.
In fact, correct Christian judgment can lead to a fuller life and a more faithful walk with God. Proper and correct Christian judgment flows from love that transforms all involved. Here are the three ways Christians can judge others without running afoul of Christ’s teachings.
Do it out of Love
If you think about it, a large proportion of the apostle Paul’s epistles or letters to churches involved making judgments regarding the health of the church in question. However, he doesn’t start and end at identifying problems, calling out those in error, and castigating them. Instead, he makes it clear, usually in the greetings section of the letter as well as in the holistic tone of the epistle, that he aims to edify or build up the church. In short, calling out the weaknesses of a church isn’t meant to embarrass, shame, or harm people. Instead, it is aimed at building up the church, defined as the congregation instead of a physical building, out of love for the church. Judgment, in this context, was also expressed by Paul as an outworking of his relationship with Christ.
Do it out of Humility
Jesus’ description of the prideful nature of Pharisees and Scribes of His time point out the importance of humility in Christian judgment. We should not judge because we take the moral high ground and claim moral superiority. Instead, we judge out a humble submission to our stewardship and guardianship of the church’s overall health. We, individual believers, make up the body of the church. This is why we can’t take the moral high ground and judge brethren because of our position or our authority. Indeed, Christ Himself pointed out that true leadership in the church means being humble servant leaders of the brethren.
Take Care of Your own Weaknesses First
Jesus pointed out the ridiculous situation many overly eager Pharisees where in during his time. They were too eager to condemn others for offenses they themselves suffered from. They would get worked up over the small infractions of their brethren when they themselves suffer from a greater severity of the same sin they condemn. Maybe they just do a great job of hiding their issues. Times haven’t changed all that much. Christians still find themselves in this situation.
The proper Christian approach would be to look honestly into your own life and see if you are not suffering from the same issues you see in others. Maybe it would be better to ask a brother or sister in the church who doesn’t have the same issues as you to gently work with the church member who is facing challenges regarding a particular sin.
Final words: Seek to Heal, not Condemn
Christ judged. God judged. Judgment is part and parcel of the Christian experience. However, Christian judgment must be a reflection of God’s judgment. He judges to heal and correct, not to condemn, punish, and destroy. He always leaves the door open to repentance and reform before sealing people. We should reflect the same: seek to heal not condemn.