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To Judge or Not to Judge

by Daniel J.M. Galpin

Judging others and whether we are or are not to do so is a valid and important question, one that seems to bewilder many Christians today. As with the issue of legalism and grace, there appears to be much confusion. We cannot merely read the Scripture each day or rely on a sermon once a week to clearly know the truths in the Bible because the translated words used for the Greek and Hebrew words often use the same word for multiple Greek or Hebrew words. Also, we must rely on the Scripture as a unit rather than merely one passage or another to reach accurate conclusions.

James 4:11-12 says we are not to judge a brother. The word judge in the Greek in this passage is to pass sentence as in a court of law. Brother in the Greek in this passage can he a fellow believer, countryman, or fellow man. The passage goes on tell us, if we are standing in judgement of others we are also judging the law itself and it says w cannot he doers of the law while being the judge of it. In the passage God has decreed Himself as Judge.

In 1 Corinthians 11:31 we are told to judge ourselves lest we be judged. The first usage of the word judge in the verse in the Greek is defined: evaluate, recognize, discern; make a distinction (between persons). The second usage of the word judge in this verse is the same as it was in the verses in James mentioned above. Thus, we are to evaluate ourselves while at the same time we are not to pronounce a sentence on others.

Matthew 7:1-5 tells us do not judge or you will be judged and the way we judge others is how we will be judged. For example, if you show mercy, you’ll have mercy shown to you and if you're harsh, the same we be returned. Here we are being warned not to pass sentence as James said and if we do, how we do it will be done to us. ln addition, we are told to first deal with our sinful actions before correcting someone else, which makes perfect sence. How can one with an uncontrollable lust problem honestly give practical ways to others on how to correct their lust? Likewise, if one has overcome a particular sin, then one can show others how it was done. Verse five actually tells to do judge. We are to judge, in the corrective since, others, while not judging them in the condemnation n since. Too often these two aspects are confused and/or misapplied.

Our standard for judging (evaluating) ourselves and others is the Word of God. With it we can judge (evaluate) good behavior or bad, correct others, know if we are obeying God or disobeying Him, or we can know if one is saved or lost - not by one action a person may commit, of course, for we all struggle at times, nor by one’s lofty words, for words without actions are empty, void, and without meaning . One ‘s lifestyle is how we know who someone is: I've heard it said, your true self is that which you would do if you knew no one would ever know you did it. In that light, I shudder to think of the wicked thoughts that have passed through my mind and I’m grateful God reminds me, He would always know. That very fact and that I may be the only Christ others see have kept from many sins I would have otherwise done. One’s lifestyle reveals what one truly believes, not their words or the show they may put on when attending a gathering.

As for much of the confusion surrounding judging, it can be aleavevated by a diligent study of the Word of God, the part of laypeople within the church, and it is the lack of such studying that is to blame for the confusion. If love the Lord we will invest our time to get to know Him (Mt. 6:21). The more we know of Him the less confusion, there will be.