To judge, or not to judge – that is the question

by John Holbrook Jr.
A Biblical View, posted October 31, 2016

Some Christians are fond of quoting I John 4:8, “God is love,” and then castigating their brothers and sisters who view abortion as murder or homosexuality as sexual impurity as “judgmental.” Indeed, one of the most devastating accusations one can make in either sacred or secular society today is, “You are being judgmental.”

These Christians deplore judgment because they read such passages in the Bible as Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (KJV).

Before addressing what the above passage actually says, however, another passage is worth noting. In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul wrote: “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?” (KJV, verses 2-3). Here Paul is saying that Christians will be judging angels in the next life and therefore should get some practice in this life.

Now back to Matthew 7:1. Jesus is warning His audience that the judge and the judged, all of whom are sinners,[1] are all subject to the same laws, and all will be judged on the Day of Judgment by the divine Judge according to those laws.[2] Thus the person who judges today must be wary (a) of basing his judgments on his own concept of good and evil, rather than on God’s pronouncements on the subject, (b) of being unmerciful, and (c) of thinking too highly of himself in relationship to the person he is judging (see 1 Corinthians 6:4, which recommends using the least esteemed in the church to judge among the brethren).

Moreover, if anyone, but particularly a Christian, gives even a moment’s thought to the matter of judging, he or she will realize immediately that most judging is not “judgmental.” Simply to think and to act require judgment – continual judgment. For example, when one steps in an elevator, one is making the judgment that someone has inspected the elevator during the past year to ascertain whether or not it is in good working order and therefore safe to use.

Even more important, everyone must realize that judgment lies at the very focus of Christianity: the cross on which God-the-Son was crucified. The crucified Christ, God-the-Son, embodies both perfect love and perfect judgment. His perfect judgment required the cross; His perfect love placed Himself upon it.

In my view, love without judgment leads to sentimentality, and judgment without love leads to brutality. Christianity without either love or judgment is a travesty and leads away from God.

© 2016 John Holbrook Jr.


[1] See Isaiah 53:5, Psalm 14:1-3,  Psalm 53:1-3, Romans 3:10-12, 20.

[2] Although all will be found guilty of sin, they will be separated into two categories: the redeemed, who accepted God-the-Son as their Lord and for whom He died on the cross at Calvary to pay the price of (atone for) their sin, and the unredeemed, who rejected God-the-Son as Lord and must themselves pay the price of their sin.

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