Christians often wrestle with the question, “should we judge others.” Jesus, people often reminded us, said, “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” and we wonder what specifically he meant by that. Did he mean that we’re not to assess whether someone’s actions are right or wrong? He can’t mean that, because he follows with instructions for how to help a brother or sister with their sin (which involves judging). Instead, Jesus is saying we should not presume to stand in God’s place judging people. He is all-loving, all-powerful and all-knowing. I am none of these. My job, then, is to love others and trust God, in his wisdom, to sort out the question of judgment.
The second lesson we learn when about should we judge others is about hypocrisy. I most readily identify faults in others that I have myself. When I excuse another person’s sin, I really excuse myself. When I condemn another’s failings, I also condemn myself. If we hope to help someone walk through their sin, we need to work out our issues first. As we come to God and ask him to judge us, we find a true assessment of our hearts. We also learn that God is loving and patient. We gain a testimony of his power to change. These things come in handy when we confront sin in someone else. Rather than condemning, we offer love, grace, patience and hope. And that’s definitely more helpful in helping someone change.
Questions for Reflection
- Are there people I find myself wanting to judge? (Criminals, terrorists, corrupt politicians, people who hurt me, fallen Christians)?
- When do you feel it is appropriate to judge the actions of others? When is it not?
- If you’ve ever confessed your sin to God, have you found him to be gracious, or angry? How much is your perception of his response grounded in your preconceived notions about God?
- Have I ever experienced a failure and found forgiveness? How has that changed the way I see others’ failures?
Other Sermons In This Series