For many Christians, judging is a confusing subject. “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged” is an ever-ready verse in discussions about judging (Matt. 7:1). Yet being a Christian automatically involves a person in judgments. Christianity claims Christ is the only way to God and calls a number of socially acceptable behaviors sinful (John 14:6). The very choice to be a Christian means drawing lines.
In 1 Corinthians 2 Paul tells us the Spirit reveals the hidden wisdom of the cross to us. These things are foolish to those that Paul calls “natural” or “soulish.” Soulish people are those who lack revelation from the Spirit. Soulish people can be Christians or non-Christians. Paul then says, “the spiritual man judges all things but he is judged by no one” (1 Cor. 2:15).
So in these verses we’re actually told to judge based on what the Spirit reveals. Is Paul contradicting Jesus? Are we supposed to judge or not?
Perhaps it would be instructive to see what else Jesus said about judging: “I can do nothing out from Myself. I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is righteous, because I do not seek my own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 5:30).
This verse raises an important question: Who is my source when I judge? If I judge out from myself, from my opinions, my perspective, my viewpoint, I judge unrighteously. Self is the source of my judgment. And self always judges in a way that seeks its own will and benefit. My self has no right to judge another self because we are both human, both fallen.
But if my judgment comes from God and from what His Spirit has revealed, that judgment is righteous. That judgment does not seek my will and is not for my benefit. In that instance, I am expressing and seeking the will of God.
So judging isn’t right or wrong in and of itself. It depends on the source of a judgment. Part of the difficulty with this subject is that we want to dichotomize it. We want to say judging is completely off limits or we want to do all kinds of judging regardless of the source of those judgments. But neither of these is biblical. Jesus calls us to make a right judgment (John 7:24).
Now this would all be neat and tidy if it weren’t humans we were talking about. People have often been guilty of imposing their own judgments on others in the name of God. How can we be sure our judgments come from God and not from self? This is what I’ll explore in my next post. Stay tuned!