Two Types of Judging
1. Discerning (Good Judging)
- Identifying the spirit behind an action
II Timothy 4:2, "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine." Be instant in season, out of season simply means always be ready, whether the time is opportune for preaching the gospel or not.
Titus 2:15, "These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee."
Ephesians 5:11, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them."
I Corinthians 2:15-16, "But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged if no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ." Simply put a mature Christian can scrutinize, sift, and thereby understand all things; but unbelievers and even carnal minded which means of the flesh, cannot judge him. Mature Christians should judge all matters and issues.
I John 4:1, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone into the world."
Paul who wrote a good portion of the New Testament, judged someone in the church. Read I Corinthians 5:1-13. Then see II Corinthians 2:5-11 to see where Paul encourages the church to forgive that person.
2. Condemning and Criticizing (Bad Judging)
- Using people’s sin as an excuse to lower or belittle them.
- Harsh punishment without encouragement to follow.
- Cursing a person or prophesying destruction into their lives. Note: it is ok to warn someone of possible consequences, but it is not ok to say things which may discourage the person or lead them to believe that the worst is the only outcome they will have.
- Sentencing with no mercy.
- Correcting someone when guilty of the same thing.
People who practice the bad kind of judging often are guilty of the same sin they are using to belittle another person. Jesus addressed this scenario in Matthew 7:1-5 and Luke 6:41-42, and these are the verses which people sometimes twist in order to defend their sinful desires. The problem is that people sometimes quote Matthew 7:1 only which reads, "Judge not, that ye be not judged." but one must also read verses 2-5 to understand the point Jesus was making. The point Jesus was making was not to judge someone of the same sin we have in our own lives. Another way to look at the point Jesus was making is by answering this question: How can a person help someone escape quicksand if that person is also stuck in the same quicksand?
Paul echoes the point Jesus was making in Romans 2:1-4, "Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?"
Christians should judge and Christians should not judge. Both are true!
What makes judging right or wrong depends on the spirit, motive and attitude in which judging is being done. So, the conclusion is that Christians should judge the actions of other people, but Christians should not make conclusions about the degree of punishment that a person will receive from God. The only conclusion that a Christian can accurately make is that if a person does not accept God’s plan of salvation, that person will be separated from God throughout all eternity, because this is what the Bible tells us (see Revelation 20:11-15).
If we are going to make a negative comment to a person about their behavior, we should be just as quick to give encouragement.God, who is the ultimate judge, is full of grace and mercy, so we should also be full of grace and mercy.
James 2:12-13, "So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. For he shall have judgement without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgement."
When people hear the word “judge” or “judgment” bad things usually come to mind, but often, good things come out of judgment. A judge rewards a person who has done the right thing. After death, everyone will face judgment. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment...” Hebrews 9:27. For non-believers, the judgment mentioned will be the Great White Throne judgment spoken of in Revelation 20:11-15; where all who trust their own good works for salvation are to be judged according to their works and Jesus will say "depart from me.", because the works of men cannot redeem them from their sins. Only God’s sacrifice redeemed us from our sin almost 2000 years ago. People who put their trust in Jesus alone for their salvation will be judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ which is mentioned in 2 Corinthians 5:10; where they will receive what is due to them according to what they did, but they will be told to enter into everlasting life because they are covered by the blood of God’s sacrifice- Jesus. For people who trusted God, their final judgment will be a good event, but non-believers will face a bad judgment.
Christians should be full of grace and mercy, but this is not always the case. It is a shameful and sad situation when church people treat others like they are trash because of something they did or because of an unjustified judgment. God knows about these situations and He will hold the slanderers, unmerciful, and graceless accountable.