In May of this year, I will have served in student ministry for 7 years. Over those years, there have been a number of phrases and sayings that I have heard students say on a regular basis. A number of these sayings have even migrated their way into the vocabulary of adults. There is one saying, however, that I hear more often than any other in the church and it is of concern to me because I think it strikes at a big piece of how discipleship works and what makes Biblical discipleship beautiful.
“Don’t judge me!”
We’ve all heard it said, or said it ourselves, at one point or another. The proverbial “get out of jail free” card. However you feel about this statement, what really matters is what Scripture says about judging someone else, and that is what I want to focus on in this brief article.
The issue centers around Matthew 7:1-3 which says, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? (ESV)” However, a look back in chapter 6 reveals multiple warnings against hypocrisy, specifically in regards to prayer and fasting. If you then read Matt 7:3-5 what you will find is yet another warning against hypocrisy. The issue, then, appears to be not that all judging is wrong but that hypocritical judgment is wrong.
In my experiences with people who say “don’t judge me”, they rarely (read never) say this in regard to what Matthew 7 is talking about. I fear that what they are saying actually goes against an important facet of discipleship. What I think many people are communicating when they say “don’t judge me” is “don’t tell me that what I’m doing is wrong.”
If that is what is truly meant by “don’t judge me” then I would have some serious questions about how someone is supposed to love a brother or sister in Christ who has fallen into sin. Can we truly love Christ’s bride while letting her choose the road that leads to death? I don’t think so.
As believers, we should be cultivating a culture of loving rebuke. A culture where we care enough about another believer to lovingly but firmly tell them that something they are doing is indeed sin. In 1 Corinthians 5, the apostle Paul is dealing with an issue of sin that has arisen in the Corinthian church. In verse 12 Paul says “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?” Paul clearly thinks that it is perfectly okay for a Christian to “judge” another Christian. Do I think that we should use this right as a stick to beat people with? By no means! This judgment should come from a heart that knows the destruction that sin causes and a heart that loves someone enough to drag them off of the path that leads there.
So let us be a people who judge well. Let us judge without hypocrisy, let us judge without self-righteousness, and let us judge in love.
Soli Deo Gloria