Doesn’t the Bible say we shouldn’t judge others? The scripture you’re probably thinking of is Matthew 7:1-5. It says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged…” Seems pretty clear, doesn’t it? But take another look at the next three verses, especially the last verse which says, “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” In other words, we shouldn’t be hypocritical. We shouldn’t tell a brother to stop committing adultery if we’re committing adultery ourselves. A good example of this was when the Reverend Jesse Jackson was counseling President Bill Clinton after his affair with Monica Lewinsky came to light. Years later, we found out that Jackson was having his own affair at that very time. Matthew goes on to say that when we’re not being hypocritical we can remove the speck from our brother’s eye. Heck, a few verses later, Jesus judges people (Matthew 7:6, 15).
Jesus tells us in John 7:24 to “Judge rightly” and not by mere appearances. Ephesians 5:11 tells us to expose the ‘deeds of darkness”. How can we do that if we don’t judge those deeds first? Any act of church discipline (1st Corinthians 5:5) and rebuking false teachers (1st John 4:1) requires judgment. Being in disagreement with someone or considering someone to be wrong is not judgmentalism but it does make a judgment about their ideas. What Jesus condemns is a critical and judgmental spirit, an inappropriate sense of moral superiority over someone because of their moral failures.
There is no contradiction between holding firmly to your convictions and treating
those who you disagree with dignity and respect. Living harmoniously with people you disagree with is a sign of maturity. This is what Ephesians 4:15 means when it says to “speak the truth in love”. Sometimes people who are good at civility lack strong convictions and those with strong convictions lack civility. We Christians need to possess both qualities.
Finally, someone who says you shouldn’t judge others is making a judgment themselves. They’re doing what they don’t want you to do. They’re being hypocritical. In a conversation like this, make these points;
– what do they mean by ‘judging’?
– point out that they’re judging you for judging someone else…hence, they’re being
– point out the difference between being judgmental and judging someone.
– point out that you can strongly disagree with someone without being ‘judgmental’.
– point out that making a judgment is the same as having an opinion.
– if they say you shouldn’t impose your morals on other people, read our FAQ about
“You can’t legislate morality”.
We can make judgments on other people, but we must do it with civility, humility and a desire to seek the other person’s betterment.
“True For You, But Not For Me” by Paul Copan
“Jesus is involved in politics” by Neil Mammen