People often get confused with words, especially if they are not in proper context. The word ‘judge’ is perhaps one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted words, especially by those who know they deserve judgement but seek to avoid it.
We’ve all seen the scenario. A Christian (well meaning or misguided) will call someone (a Christian or not) out on their sin. The most common one in our society today is around the topic of homosexuality. The Christian calls this act out and says it is wrong in God’s eyes. But those either in the homosexual lifestyle or supporting it… say we have no right to judge. There is where the problem is. Both sides get confused on the difference between judging and condemning.
It is the way word is used that makes the difference. Paul tells the Roman church, “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.” (Rom 2:1-2)
You see “passing judgement on” is different than making a judgement or having judgement between two things. Passing judgement is more like condemning. Look at the role of an actual judge in court. Throughout the proceedings, he is making judgments on what can be presented and what cannot… what can be abstained or overruled… etc. All throughout the case, he is ‘making judgments’. However it is not until the end of the trial, after the jury has read their findings, that the judge finally passes judgement or condemns if the person if found guilty.
As Christians, we are called to make judgments about the world we live in. “Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!” (1 Cor 6:2-3)
We are to hold this world to a higher standard than it holds itself. We are to hold Christians to a higher standard than non-Christians. We are to make judgments of what is right and biblical and what is not. However it is not our role to pass judgment or to condemn. That role does not even belong to Christ.
Take the story of the woman about to be stoned for adultery (being condemned by other men in the village). After Jesus says “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7), they all dropped their stones and left. Then pay close attention to how Jesus responds.
“Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said,“Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:10-11) Even Jesus did not condemn (or pass judgment on) her. For that job is only for the Father.
However, Jesus did make a judgment on her actions. He did call them a sin and called her to ‘go and sin no more’. This is the part that so many people miss. And it is critical for every Christian to fully grasp.
We are NOT to condemn people, that action is only the Father’s. But we ARE called to make judgments based on what is biblical… to live as Christ would have us live. We are called to tell people the truth and ask them to repent and ‘go and sin no more’. This is not passing judgment (for there is no sentence attached) but it IS calling them to a life of Glory… and that is something EVERY Christian is called to do.
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