We can prove to be very judgmental. When given a list of sins, people tend to think or even say, “That’s not about me, that’s about that person or those people.” The truth is you have sinned and chances are you sin not just daily but multiple times daily. That critical thought you had about that person who sins so much worse than you do, that was a sin. That disrespectful thought you had when your boss told you the same thing he has told you one hundred times already, that was a sin. When you looked at your friends vacation pictures and thought, “Why can’t that be me? I wish I could go on as many trips as she does,” that was a sin. If you’re anything like me, your sins are probably much more and more obvious than those.
Yet in our human flesh, we find it natural to compare ourselves, to judge others, and justify our own behavior and thoughts while showing little or no mercy for the behavior of others. Verses 1-2 read,
Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things.
It is absolutely not okay to judge someone for the same sins we ourselves are committing. Now it is probable that most people reading this have never murdered or raped anyone. So, is it okay for us to judge murderers and rapists? We have not practiced those very same things. No, not really. Jesus said,
“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye (Matthew 7:1-5).”
Jesus said, “Do not judge if you don’t want to be judged yourself. Take care of the enormity of your own sin first, then look to someone else and help him to stop sinning.” He didn’t say, “First stop sinning then it is okay to judge.” As believers, we do not judge the world, full stop. And when it comes to one another, it is dangerous; we can help the less mature stop sinning, we can offer advice and be role models, but judgement implies putting ourselves in Jesus’ place. In dealing with horrific acts happening within the church in 1 Corinthians 12-13a Paul said,
For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside.
God will judge every person, good or evil, righteous or not. Trust God to be the judge, Trust Him to be God and work on people to bring them to Him. You sin, they sin and God allows it for now. He has a purpose. He waits for Judgement Day because His mercy will bring more people to Him. Verses 3-5 read,
Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.
You see, some people claim “grace, grace, grace” and use it as an excuse to deliberately sin and live lives just as sinful as those who do not know the Gospel. Some people think, if there is a god, he would never send them to Hell and he will let people into Heaven based on how good they are; but those people too continue sinning and ignoring who the LORD truly is. Both Paul and Peter had something to say about this. Paul wrote,
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another (Galatians 5:13-15).
And Peter wrote,
For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor (1 Peter 2:15-17).
You see, there is no love in judgement, there is no glory to God in judgement, and there is no showing people the love and mercy of God in judgement. God’s kindness, His patience and mercy is so that people will recognize their sin in the face of His love and repent. Judgement Day will come and the evil will not get away with evil. Even those who are blind and deaf to the truth will face consequences for their sin. God wants everyone to repent and come to Him, don’t we also want that? What good is being judgmental? People can’t recognize the love of God in our condemnation of them.
2 Peter 3:9-11 says,
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness
Everyone will be judged, we don’t have to concern ourselves with doing God’s job and judging them. Verses 6-11 read,
He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality.
The Jew referred to here are those who have knowledge of the Law, who know what God expects from them. The Greek are those who have no understanding that God sent Moses the law. But in the end, it won’t matter if a person heard of God’s law, or heard the Gospel or not because judgement will happen and there will be one criteria, did you have faith in Jesus or not. Did you fulfill the law by accepting confessing Christ, believing in Him, and living in the Spirit or did you know right from wrong and reject Jesus and choose yourself as god? Verses 12-16 read,
For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.
One of the reasons that we humans should refrain from judgement, even in the form of piously teaching people to do what is right, is because we are not God, we are imperfect people who sin. How can we sanctimoniously moralize people and expect them to do any better than us? That is the problem with Hate the sin, love the sinner. There is no love when we lift ourselves above someone, brand him a sinner, and superciliously judge him. Only Jesus can save, only the Holy Spirit can sanctify. We can teach, but we have to teach Jesus. We can lead, but we have to lead with the example of Christ! Verses 17-24 say,
But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God18 and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; 19 and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
Let’s stop judging and start being! Let’s stop preaching rules and start living the Word! Let’s stop trying to be god to the world and let God be God to the world. Let’s stop trying to look good, meaning let’s give up self-righteousness and start to live the righteousness of Christ. Paul refers to the practice of circumcision and compares it to self-righteousness. The Judaizers thought that laws such as circumcision were important, it made them look like good Jews. But they ignored the laws of loving God and loving their neighbors. They looked righteous but on the inside they were not faithful, loving, or pleasing to God. Verses 25-29 read,
For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. 26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.
Believer, what is your response? Have you judged where you have no right? Have you taught rules instead of confessing Christ? Are there people you could love who you have labeled as sinners?