To Judge or Not to Judge

Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds : to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. Romans 2:1‭-‬11 NASB For a long time I have struggled with this business of judging. I've often heard, it's wrong to judge others since we are likely guilty of the same things.  So does this mean that when we are observing what others do, it is wrong to decide whether the things they are doing are right or wrong?  I think we do need to judge the people we are around to determine if we should be spending our time with them, doing things with them, or acting like them. 1Cor.15:33 says Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals". When Paul is talking about not judging, he says not to pass judgment. It sounds to me like the difference is between passing judgments and making judgments. I was talking to a good friend about this and asked him what he thought the difference was. He immediately took his phone out and googled, what does it mean to pass judgment? Wish I had thought of that. Anyway what came up was this; the original meaning of passing judgment is having a courtroom judge making a legal decision. Well, there it is. That is definitely the job of the Holy Spirit, in this case. 

The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:15‭-‬16 NIV

So there is a big difference between Passing judgment and making a judgment. Passing judgment on a person is totally up to the Holy Spirit while making a judgment about a person's actions is something we do by what's been made known to us by the Holy Spirit. So next time you hear, judge not least ye be judged, we just need to decide which judgment it is we need to avoid or which one are we doing, passing a judgment or making a judgment.

One final note, it was brought to my attention regarding brothers and sisters in Christ, in the church we are to admonish one another in love and in order to do that there needs to be judgment. So there is also a difference of judging inside the church or out in the world. In the world it is up to the Holy Spirit to pass judgment and for us to only judge as to how we respond to the people outside the church. In the church, though, we do judge in order to restore gently a brother or sister we see in sin. 

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Galatians 6:1

by Ken Edgerly

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