Have you ever heard the phrase “Don’t Judge Me.” Unfortunately, as a pastor I have heard this statement a few times over the years. Usually, it is when I am trying to talk with someone who claims to be a follower of Christ, but is living contrary to the commands of Christ. So where does this phrase come from, and are people using it correctly?
First, the phrase comes from Scripture in Matthew 7:1. “Judge not, that you be not judged.” So does this mean that we should keep quiet and never say anything to another believer who is struggling with sin? Of course not! It’s important to not take a verse out of context and use it incorrectly. So here’s a few things to take into account.
Truth and Grace
I recently shared in our church the importance of having both truth and grace when we share with others. Jesus is our example of this as shown in John 1:14. Here is a good way to think about it.
In a previous post I shared
- Grace means that I will love you no matter what.
- Truth means that I will be honest with you no matter what.
Grace without truth is Christianity without a backbone.
Truth without grace is Christianity without a heart.
It is not always easy to bring up a concern with a friend, but if we love them and want to help them be faithful to Christ, we must be able to spur one another towards love and good deeds as Hebrews 10:24 tells us, by pointing out the sin that they might not see in their life.
The Purpose of Your Discussion
If you continue reading in Matthew 7:2-5, you see the importance of first dealing with the sin in your own life. We have to check our motives to see why we want to point out what is wrong in other’s lives. I’m afraid that many Christians enjoy doing this because it makes them feel better about themselves. If this is the case, the Matthew 7 is very clear that you are a hypocrite, and that you need to remove the log from your own eye before you start pointing out the speck of dust in others.
We must also remember that we can’t expect the behavior of non-Christians to be Christ-like. I see a lot of energy expended from the church trying to get the world to change their behavior. What people need is a relationship with Jesus. You can try to point out their sin, but you have to realize that non-Christians do not have the Holy Spirit living inside of them to convict them of sin. Instead of judging, we need to be witnessing and sharing Christ with them.
But if your purpose is to genuinely help the other person, and you love them and want what’s best for them, sometimes you have to approach the person and have a tough conversation. Matthew 18:15-20 gives us an outline of how conflict and sin should be handled between believers. If they have sinned, then you are to go to them alone and share your concern. If they don’t listen, then you take along others. After that, you should get the leadership of the church involved. If they still don’t repent, then you are to treat them as an unbeliever, and remove the privileges of serving or leading at church. 2 Corinthians 7:8-13 shows an example of how Paul used a letter to bring about repentance in others. He wrote to them, shared what they were doing wrong, and rejoiced when their life changed direction and they turned back to God. Our purpose should always be to bring the other person closer to Christ so that their relationships can be restored!
The Response of the Person
You learn a lot about the spiritual maturity of the person by how they respond. I have seen people become angry and mad, and decide to leave church. I have also seen people realize what they are doing wrong, and then take the steps necessary to get right with God and with others. Those that leave, and some will, have chosen the love of this world. It is better for someone to leave your church rather than hurt the cause of Christ by setting a bad example for others. Continue to pray for them and love them, but you simply cannot condone continual sin in the life of a believer. We must extend grace, but we cannot sacrifice truth. For more info, check out this excellent article about judging others at GotQuestions.org. I have also included a section from our church constitution and bylaws about how our church tries to handle conflict resolution.
from our Constitution and Bylaws for Cornerstone
It shall be the basic procedure of Cornerstone Community Church to emphasize to its members that every reasonable measure will be taken to assist any troubled member. The pastoral staff and elders are available for counsel and guidance. Reconciliation rather than punishment should be the guideline that governs the attitude of one member toward another. Should some serious condition exist which would cause division within the church due to that member acting contrary to Scripture, every reasonable measure will be taken by the elder team to resolve the problem in accordance with Matthew 18:15-35, I Corinthians 5:1-13, 2 Corinthians 2:1-11. All such proceedings shall be pervaded by a spirit of Christian kindness and forbearance.