Don't Judge Me: Why and How Brethren Should Righteously Judge One Another
Don’t Judge Me! How many times have you heard this phrase, or even have yourself said it? Today, we will look at why it is important to keep one another accountable and righteously judge one another. By this I mean those that are truly in the faith, brethren. On the contrary, we will also look into when it’s not okay to judge someone.
As Christians, we should consider ourselves one body in Christ, with the same Spirit. We all play a role in the kingdom and work together as one to glorify the true and the living God through the spiritual gifts given to all of us by Christ. In 1Corintians chapter 12, Paul explains how the body of Christ should operate. When we talk about brethren, we are talking about those that profess to be followers of Jesus Christ. Those that are going through the sanctification process, on purpose, by avoiding willful sin and being obedient to God through convictions of the Holy Spirit.
In the body of Christ, we are called to keep each other accountable to the extent of being there for one another as a real friend and encouraging spiritual growth with in one another. Even those that are not in the faith know that a real friend is someone who will tell you when you’re wrong and reassure you with love. Someone that’s going to make you aware of the things you can’t see, like that bugger in your nose, or the stain on the back of your pants, or your rudeness to them or that random person because you had a bad day. Subsequently, Christians are to keep each other accountable to the word of God through love and with gentleness. Refer to Galatians 6:1-2 and Ephesians 4:25-26. Although, there are times when an outward showing of reverence for God is appropriate. Jude 1:23 says, some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire.
Metaphorically, righteous judgment can be likened to correcting your children when they are misbehaving, breaking the rules or simply being disobedient. As parents, teachers, and guardians we are called to be stewards over children to keep them in line when they fail to see the errors of their ways. If a child is playing with fire or runs out into the street parents usually somehow put a healthy fear in them so that they will know that it’s dangerous. Why do we do this? We do it out of love. Proverbs 13:24 says, He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly. You may be wondering how can adults be compared to parents correcting their children. Let’s look deeper into the scriptures for feedback on this comparison. Matthew 18: 3-5 tells us that we must humble ourselves and become like children to enter the Kingdom of heaven. In other words, we must be open to correction from the brethren. God has always spoken through people and this is proven by the teachings given to us by those who had a hand in writing the Bible; in which these very words were given by God himself, 1 Timothy 3:16-17. Moreover, Proverbs 12:1 tells us, whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he that hates correction is a fool.
There are times when we are told to judge. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 says to test all things and hold fast to what is good. Likewise, Proverbs 31: 9 says to speak up and judge fairly, and defend the rights of the poor and needy. In addition, 1 Corinthians 5:6-11 tells us to not to even eat with those that claim to be brethren but are living immoral lives. So we are not only told to judge fairly, we are told to choose wisely the company we keep. Perhaps we are focusing so much on the concept judging that we don’t understand that we should be making the correct judgments about things that could affect our spiritual walks either negatively or positively.
We are all guilty of judging someone in our lifetime. When was the last time that you wrongly judged someone? Perhaps it was that homeless man on the street, that asked you for change and you looked at his shoes and said he don’t need help, or maybe it was the homeless woman that had a weave in her hair and was begging for change, and you took one look at her and judged her when you really don’t know her situation. In John 7:24, Jesus said, do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment. This is after he was questioned about healing a man on the Sabbath, which was done out of pure love.
On the other hand, people always quote Matthew 7:1; Judge not, that you be not judged. What most people fail to do is to read beyond just one or two verses. Anybody can take two verses and twist or pervert the meaning of the whole message. It is when we look at the context of this message that we can find the true meaning. Matthew 7: 1-5 asks, why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye and not consider the plank in your own eye? We must first remove the plank in our own eye, to even see clearly to remove the speck from our brother eye. Otherwise we are hypocrites. To make it simple, we must first judge ourselves; our own underlying motives, thoughts and actions before we can even begin to think about judging someone else.
Furthermore, Jesus forbids judging when your focus is to exalt yourself by putting others down. Finding fault in everyone else when you are living your life in a constant state of sin is the epitome of a person who is a charlatan. In this passage Jesus is not telling us to abstain from taking a stance or to avoid making a decision of what is right and wrong according to the word of God; he’s cautioning those who have bitter, jealous, hypocritical, and faultfinding spirits that on judgment day they will be faced with the same judgment.
In addition, people can sense when your judgment/correction is not coming from a place of love and they will not receive it. There is no point in getting overly angry or being forceful because none of these things will work. In fact, your forcefulness is coming from a selfish place where you are attempting to impose your will instead of the Lord’s will on someone else. We cannot control or change someone’s faults; we can only plant seeds that only God can water. It is only by his grace that we are saved, healed and delivered.
In conclusion, we can follow the example that Jesus set about being a righteous judge. In John 5:30 Jesus said, "I can of myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and my judgment is righteous, because I do not seek my own will but the will of the Father who sent Me." We can only judge righteously by sticking to God’s will, which is found in his word. Therefore, when it comes time to help others discern between right and wrong, we will have the word of God as the standard to all corrections and advice; to humble ourselves and put our own thoughts, feelings, and opinions to the side and take heed to the limitations and examples set by Christ. This is to know what it takes to be a righteous judge.