I’m sure we’ve all heard someone say, “the Bible says not to judge.” Which is true, but it commonly gets taken out of context. The passage is Matthew 7:1-2. “Do not judge others and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” What gets left out is what Christ goes on to say in Matthew 7:15, He says, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” If the Church picks and chooses what verses to hear and apply, we will miss what the true message is. If we aren’t willing to use discernment, aka judgement, to tell if others are true and genuine we will be tossed and thrown around by every new teacher and idea and feel good message that comes along…we have to use judgement! One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is discernment of spirits (1 Corinthians 12:10).
As followers of Christ we have a responsibility to protect the Body of Christ from false teachers and evil doers. We also have to responsibility to tell a fellow brother or sister in Christ if we see them headed down the wrong path. This also goes back to Matthew 7:3-5. If we have major unrepentant sin in our lives how can we help another believer with their sin. It’s easy to recognize the sin in someone else’s life, but much harder to recognize it in the mirror. Jesus tells us to get our own spiritual lives in order so that we can help other get theirs straight. 1 Corinthians 2:15-16 says Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others. For “Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?” But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ. So to say, we don’t allow the world to tell us we’re wrong, or that our faith is misplaced. The world doesn’t have the ability to judge us, they have no moral compass or anchor to base any judgments on. Also, we can’t understand what the Lord is doing, our minds can’t comprehend the plans and purposes He has for us.
It’s important to add, we are not called to judge the heart or motives of other believers, we can’t assume we know their heart. What we can see is their actions and fruit and that is what we can evaluate and help them with. I believe the key to all of this is simple, if we truly love others we will, first, want the best for them and second, let them know gently in love and compassion that they may be headed the wrong way. Jesus was the master of this. He never left someone with scars, He left them with hope. The Holy Spirit will enable us to do the same if we allow Him to.