Plainly put…We have to be. To be clear, I’m not talking about Christians who are constantly giving their unsolicited opinion about every little thing. I’m talking about Christians who politely refrain from worldly lifestyles or indulging in sinful behavior. I get deep with this one. So brace yourselves.
“You’re too judgmental! Jesus Christ was open and accepting of everyone! I’ve talked to other Christians and they’re cool with everyone’s lifestyle! DON’T JUDGE ME!”
How many times have you heard this when it comes to some behavior or activity that you know goes against Bible principles? Like the Hook-Up Culture, Sex Before Marriage, Getting Drunk, High, or even celebrating and promoting Pride Month.
Very often, Christians and non-Christians alike will use Christ’s own words against you. At Matthew Chapter 7 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.”
Strong words from our Lord and Savior. However, at John 7:24, Jesus also says, “24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with righteous judgment.”…Sounds like he’s telling us to judge here? Sounds contradicting. But is it?
I think it’s about time we elaborated on the various meanings of “judge” as well as addressing this notion of, “Well, I talked to other Christians, and they’re cool with it!”
Forgive me if this sounds condescending, but consider this: A 1st Grader who knows 2+2=4, knows math. But so does a 10th grader who knows how to solve Quadratic Equations. Thus, both can claim they do really know math…however one’s a bit more advanced in his knowledge than the other.
According to Merriam Webster, a “Christian” is one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ.
But what does that mean? How do you “believe” in a teaching? What were his teachings? The best way to find that out is to read the Bible, particularly the New Testament. Without reading for yourself, going straight to the source, you are vulnerable to lies and manipulation. Anyone…including myself…can claim we are Christians and tell you what Jesus taught by randomly quoting Scriptures out of context…but unless you read the Bible for yourself, you’re actually placing more trust in humans than perhaps God himself.
Because here’s the thing, I’ve heard testimony of people who “claim” to be Christians, and yet they advocate robbing and stealing if they had to. Think Bloods and Crips. I’ve heard of people who “claim” to be Christians, and yet they rap and sing songs glorifying sex and decadence. Look at hip hop. I actually know people in real life who “claim” to be Christians and yet they’re homosexuals and married the same sex. And of course, if you look throughout history, we see entire centuries where clergymen “claim” to be Christians, and yet they promoted the crusades and torturous inquisitions.
To be clear, you’ll never hear me say someone’s going to hell. It’s not my place to say I’m more Christian than they are, or that they aren’t “real Christians.” Because you don’t know their heart. I’m not the one they have to answer to. Very often, people will try to bait me into arguments like, “So Rock, do you think I’m going to hell if ____”
And what’s odd is when I direct them to the Scripture that’ll give them their exact answer, suddenly they back off and don’t want to hear it. Strange right? They’ll say something like, “I don’t want to know what the Bible says, I want to hear what you think,” I think a few things are happening here.
Either 1) They’re testing to see if you’re able to think for yourself, 2) they’re testing to see if you’re as genuine a Christian as you claim, 3)They’re looking for you to tell them what they want to hear so they can use it as a defense for being misled, or 4) as I’ll elaborate later, they’re looking for you to take the place of God in judging them, because then, there’s plenty of room to argue and debate.
How many times have you heard this: “It’s sad that you can’t think for yourself, that you need the Bible to tell you what’s right and wrong…”
First off, everyone is born with a conscience. In the Book of Acts, the Apostle Paul indicates that God implanted this moral law in all of our hearts, all humans from every society whether God personally made himself known to them or not. We don’t “need” God to know what’s right or wrong…but we do need him for guidance and the strength to master that moral law. Because as humans, we are more than capable of using every mental gymnastic in the book to justify in our own mind that doing what’s wrong…is actually good.
For instance, you don’t need the Bible to tell you it’s wrong to sleep with your best friend’s girlfriend. But if that’s what you really really want to do? You need guidance, strength, and discipline to help master your own desire.
When people say, “So, Rock, do you think I’m going to hell if I ____” I believe they’re subconsciously trying to deputize me as God’s human representative on Earth. Because if their judge is now human, then there’s wiggle room for debate and justification. Why? Because humans are flawed and guilty of sin. How many times have you been in an argument where you point out what a person did wrong…only for that person to turn around and bring up something you did wrong. It’s a defense mechanism that screams, “You have no right to criticize! He who is without sin, remember! He who is without sin!!!”
And when it comes to the whole, “it’s sad that you can’t think for yourself, that you need the Bible to tell you what’s right or wrong.”...Know that this is a shaming tactic. It’s about as juvenile as telling a student that it’s sad you need to read a book to know what happened in history. Or, “it’s sad that society needs a justice system, that we need laws to tell us what is or isn’t a crime.”
They’re basically accusing you of being a mindless puppet who believes everything you read without question…and they call us judgmental…
Since God created us, our biggest folly has always been turning away from what God tells us to do, in order to create our own system of beliefs…basically to become our own gods. Why? Because of that pesky thing God gave us, a conscience. We know when we’re doing something wrong…but to dull that internal trigger in our minds…humans will create new laws (Amendments), new customs (Hip Hop), new religions (Branch Davidians, Heaven’s Gate), new trends (Hook-Up Culture), and Social Acceptance Movements to justify doing whatever we want to do.
If you do this enough times, you eventually become desensitized to that internal alarm. Shame and guilt will stop having an effect because you’re numb to it. Harkens back to what Jeremiah said while observing Jerusalem’s decadent state before their fall to Nebuchadnezzar.
At Jeremiah 6:15, the Weeping Prophet says, “Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time that I punish them, they shall be overthrown,” says the Lord.
One more example: Is it wrong for a woman to divorce her husband because she fell in love with someone else…even though her husband has never abused her, never cheated on her, and has always provided for her and their children?
According to the Man’s laws, that’s perfectly fine. You can file under irreconcilable differences. But what does God say on the matter? Do you want to know? Because once upon a time, there was a man who thought something similar, that you don’t need the Bible. His name was Jim Jones and he led his congregation of 900 to a mass suicide.
“Wow, Rock? Did you really just compare divorce to mass suicide?”
What they have in common, is that they both disobeyed what the Bible says on the matter. When Jim Jones held up the Bible and told his congregation, “WE DON’T NEED THIS!” Red flags should have gone off. Being judgmental could have saved lives that day. If you’re dealing with a Christian who’s too into what the World says on what’s right and wrong, instead of what the Bible says…even here, being judgmental could spare you a financial and emotionally devastating divorce. It’s not foolproof. But it’ll increase your chances of avoiding it.
So let’s go back to what Jesus said at Matthew Chapter 7, that go-to scripture that so many people like to use.
JUDGE NOT, LEST YE BE JUDGED
Matt 7: “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.”
When people use this scripture, a lot of times, I’ve seen it used as a shield to ward off criticism for their own shameful actions. The person quoting the scripture usually doesn’t acknowledge what they’ve done is wrong and they often carry that haughty attitude of, “I don’t need to answer to you. Only God can judge me. We’re all sinners! And if you judge me, you’re going to be judged too! So be careful!”
It’s an effective tactic. I’ve seen it used in live debates to silence the other person…but it wouldn’t silence me. In all honesty, I can’t wait to be judged by the same standard that I judge others. Why?
Imagine that one student in class who studied hard, did all his homework, and never slacked off…Do you think a student like that is going to be afraid when Report Cards are coming out? Or do you think she’ll be waiting on the edge of her seat to see it. Why? Because it isn’t easy! There’s sacrifice. There’s peer pressure. There’s lust and desires to distract this student. But despite all that, she focused and put her academics first. Her reward isn’t instant. But she knows without a shadow of doubt that she will be graded. That report card is her reward.
That’s such an amazing analogy, if I may compliment myself. Because it really is similar to what you see with Today’s Christians. They put you to shame, don’t they? If you failed your quiz but everyone else in the class also failed…you wouldn’t feel so bad, would you? But when most of the class failed, but one or two students gets near perfect score…those individuals will likely be targeted by the cool kids.
Not sure if that’s the same now, but it was like that when I was coming up. Also, I do believe in the gravity of that sentiment, “misery loves company.” It’s analogous to Christians because if you’re out here getting high, pursuing sex, money, and materialistic things…unless you’re aware of the inner conflict in your heart…chances are, a practicing “self-righteous” Christian is the last person you want to be around.
When Judgment Day comes, I won’t be afraid. Yes, I’ve failed a quiz or two and there was a period of time where I skipped school a lot…but before it was too late, I got my act together. I refrained from making mistakes that would ruin everything or make it extremely hard to get back on track. I hunkered down, focused, and endeavored to put God first. At the age of 34, I’ve read the entire Bible from cover to cover twice now…I believe in it…It makes sense…I love it!
My point being, if you’re a practicing Christian who’s actually striving to do what’s good in God’s eyes…why would being judged by that standard fear you? If you’ve read the Bible, then you know that God can see what’s in your heart. We all fall short. God knows this. Jehovah understands this! His standards should be a source of salvation and encouragement, not dread. Unless…you really are a hypocrite.
Clicking on this link will take you to all of Matthew Chapter 7. What it shows is that when Jesus warned us about being judged by the same standards you judge others…Jesus is targeting hypocrites. Hypocrites are people who claim to have a moral standard or beliefs, but they don’t live by that standard. This shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Again, we’ve all fallen short. There’s no such thing as a “perfect Christian.” But do not…I repeat, do not let the fear of your own shortcomings stop you from trying to save another. If every Christian let it stop them, Christianity would’ve been crushed and faded away back during the time of Emperor Nero. But it’s grown. It’s spread. And before the end of days, Jesus tells us that the Gospels will be known to every land.
So pick yourself up, my brothers and sisters. Keep spreading the Gospels with love and kindness. And use your best judgment when discerning whether to let go of someone who simply does not want to be saved.
WHAT DO WE MEAN BY, “JUDGE”?
That’s the word that trips up a lot of people these days. In the Bible, the word “judge” appears so many times in so many different contexts. Some scriptures encourage us to judge, while others imply that only God will judge. So what gives?
To understand, you have to know about Semantics. You have to know about context, and this is where all that “thinking” is required. The same word can have multiple meanings based on the situation, the culture or custom. For instance, “slave” is often used in the New Testament. But it doesn’t have the same meaning we’d think of when it comes to “slaves” in the Southern Slave States.
Take the word, “responsible.” If I calmly asked you if you’re responsible. You’d likely say yes, thinking to yourself that I mean you’re trustworthy and know how to prioritize and take care of things.
“HE’S RESPONSIBLE!” I say, pointing you out to the cops. It’s the same word, but now it has a different meaning, as in you’re guilty or culpable. Get it? Now let’s examine a word like “judge”.
The first Bible from cover to cover was given by Jehovah’s Witnesses. The 2nd was this English Standard version that I highly recommend. If you read Romans 14:1, you get slightly different wordings in the two Bibles.
In the JW Bible, Romans 14:1 says, “Welcome the man having weaknesses in his faith, but do not pass judgment on differing opinions.
In the ESV, Romans 14:1 says, “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.”
Wow…to us Millennials, “Quarrel” and “Passing Judgment” sound like two different things, don’t they? This doesn’t mean that one scripture is wrong and the other is right. They both mean the same thing and should produce the same interpretation. The problem is us, humans. As generations come and go, definitions are stretched and often times, innocuous words take on negative tones. Like “manifesto” or “strange”.
When it comes to “judging,” the kind of judgment Jesus Christ warned us about is condemning others, as in declaring a person is going to hell or that they’re not really Christian, or that they have no hope in everlasting life. Here, we’re not supposed to judge, as in, give someone a verdict.
In the Book of Revelation, the word “judgment” or “judge” refers to the execution, the meting out of God’s punishment on the wicked. Here, we’re most definitely not supposed to judge. It’s not our place to kill or physically harm anyone for their lack of faith or even their misuse of the scriptures. God will handle that.
A good example to follow, is in the book of Jude. We see that while the powerful Archangel Michael is contending with Satan about Moses’s body, Michael doesn’t kill Satan, but instead calls on God to rebuke Satan. God will “judge.” God will execute his punishment.
The kind of “judging” that we as Christians should actively do, and not be afraid of doing, is the discernment. Discerning for ourselves what’s right or wrong based on what the Bible teaches. The definition of “discern” is to “perceive or recognize.” This requires thinking, observing for yourself what’s going on and acknowledging whether it’s right or wrong.
“But why though? You don’t have to think. You can just do! Or let people be themselves! They’re free to do whatever they want! You said it yourself! God will do the punishing. So it’s not your problem!”
Right…so here’s a universal truth that a lot of people tend to overlook. Because ever since we were kids, we were told, “mind your own business.” Here’s the truth: if you see it…if you hear it…if you feel it, whether its emotionally or physically, whatever’s going on is now your business. It’s in your world. That’s why the argument used to be, “whatever a person does in the comfort of their own home is their business.” There’s some truth to that, because it’s not out in public. Out of sight, out of mind.
Don’t get it twisted. Just because we don’t verbally or physically react to what’s going on, it doesn’t mean our mind’s ignoring it.
“Yeah, but Rock, you know what we mean when we say ‘mind your own business.’ We’re really asking to just ignore it and not say anything even though you’re now aware.”
Understood…but that’s where you run into the biggest problem with “tolerance and acceptance”. There’s no middle ground, hardly any compromise. It’s usually A having to accept and tolerate B, while B does nothing to accept and tolerate A. It raises the conflict of why do we have to ignore what we think people shouldn’t be doing in public? If I tolerate and accept B, B doesn’t have to change anything about how their actions, words, or appearance makes me feel. Do you see what I’m saying? This is why things like “decency” and “consideration” are so valuable to a society. Even IF you are free to do what you want in public, considering how others would feel by your actions, it’s how we all get along.
“So what, Rock? You saying I have to just hide who I am just because it makes someone else feel a type a way? It sounds like they’re just racists/bigots/intolerant/misogynist etc.”
Getting back to the, “why though? You don’t have to think?”. As in, “why are you taking the time to stop and think about what another person is doing?”
When Christians read the Bible every day, discerning what’s right or wrong kicks in like muscle memory. It’s an involuntary muscle. It’s not like we’re eager to stop everything and give it our undivided thought and attention…it’s instinct.
It’s like what Bruce Lee said. When you’re in a fight, you shouldn’t think…you should feel. He means that when you’re in the heat of combat, you shouldn’t be thinking about what you have to do next or how best to react. It should be instinctive. Do what feels natural.
And really, what he’s talking about is from the drills. I used to practice Wing Chun Kung Fu. This is what Bruce Lee learned before developing Jeet Kun Do. In class, you do a lot of drills, a lot of repetitive motions. Your muscles, your body becomes accustomed, so when it comes to sparring…you don’t need to think. Your body, through practice and conditioning, will execute the best move for the given situation.
It’s the same for a Christian who’s constantly reading the Scriptures, reflecting on it. When you encounter a situation where someone’s doing what the Bible clearly tells us is wrong…it’s instinctive. Regardless of the reasons (excuses). Regardless of the circumstances.
EVERYONE WON’T BE JUDGED ON THE SAME STANDARD
“For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” (Matt. 7:2)
What this tell me is that I will not be judged by the same standard that most people will be judged by. Why? Because I know the truth. I’ve read the entire Bible, from cover to cover, twice. So I can’t claim ignorance to what the Bible says.
1st Corinthians 6:9-11 is a clear and concrete list of the kind of people who will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. I encourage you to stop right now and read it. And if you see a lifestyle that reminds you of you…it’s not too late to repent.
So when someone tells me that it’s okay to have sex outside of marriage because another Christian said its okay…what kind of man would I be to stand before God and say, “I’m sorry, I was misled because a human told me something that was clearly different from what I read in the Bible.”
“Well, Rock. What if you’re misinterpreting what you read?”
Good point. I’m not dismissive of that at all. So here’s a few things. First off, Romans 14 teaches us that we’re all going to be judged as individuals. It teaches us not to quarrel over our disagreements of the scriptures but to let each person come before God with their own conviction. By “conviction,” we’re talking about the truth of what you actually believe.
Secondly, when I say God knows our heart, please…PLEASE BELIEVE you cannot hide your true intentions, your true motives from God. This should be the most comforting thing about our Heavenly Father, more than a trepidation. Think about doctors. For you to get butt-naked in front of a total stranger, or classmates, or peers is likely embarrassing. But with doctors who have already seen you naked, who need to see you exposed to diagnose the issue, you’re relatively more comfortable with them.
It should be 10x more comfortable with God who’s watched over you since you were born. He’s seen you naked. He’s seen your mess-ups, your losses, your triumphs. When no one’s looking and you slipped and fell…God saw it. When you stole and no one caught you. God saw you. When you lied and deceived others thinking you have everyone fooled, God saw it.
We think we’re so slick as human beings, but God knows us. If you think you can use the excuse of “another Christian lied to me,” think again. The Book of Jeremiah is one of my favorites from the Old Testament. I encourage everyone to just read Chapter 6 in its entirety. Jeremiah did his damnest to warn the people of the impending threat of Babylon, a warlord nation God was using to punish his people for their wicked ways.
In 6:14, Jeremiah says that Priest will talk about the people having “peace” with God when really there was no peace. He says that people won’t be ashamed of their abominations, because they will know no shame. Sounds familiar?
Take this example. If you have two Priests in front of you. Both claim to know the Bible and claim to be Christians. One Priest says that you shouldn’t have sex outside of marriage and points you in the direction of God’s word the Bible to justify his teachings. While the Other Priest says it’s okay, and points you in the direction of other humans who claim to be “Christians” and have also said it’s okay.
What will you do? Which path will you take?
“But still though! You can’t really blame the people for picking the wrong choice if they really don’t know?”
PEOPLE ARE AFRAID OF THE TRUTH
They would know if they read the Bible. But people are afraid. They’re afraid of learning what God specifically says about an issue, a behavior, or a lifestyle because then they can’t use ignorance as an excuse. They can’t say they’ve been misled when they’ve read the Bible scriptures for themselves and now know what God specifically says.
The Bible is the most published book in the world. It’s been uploaded and free on so many websites. My go-to is www.BibleGateway.com because it has multiple translations to choose from. I don’t blame children for not knowing, but adults…anyone with a functioning brain has the same opportunity to read the scriptures.
So when you hear people say, “Well, Jesus was open and accepting of everyone…” this is what they really mean. Everyone is indeed welcome to repent (turn aside) from the world and embrace Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Jesus loves us all and welcomes us all. But it’s up to you to get up and walk that path. It’s up to you to drink of the Living Water (John 4:7-14) and enter the narrow gate.
If you are afraid, whether you’re afraid of losing your friends, having to change professions, or giving up money and that lifestyle you’ve grown so accustomed to…my brother, my sister, I encourage you to pray. Know that God already sees what you’re going through, so be open and honest and hide nothing as you lay your burden upon Him. Ask for the strength to do what’s right. Ask for the guidance to draw closer to Him. Ask for the discipline to resist temptation and set your sights upon the Kingdom of Heaven. It’s not too late.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO BE JUDGMENTAL?
Why is this important? PLENTY OF REASONS. First off, I’ve already given you at least three. 1) helps you pick a spouse wisely, 2) helps you avoid false teachers who lean more upon human wisdom than the Bible, and 3) helps you avoid harmful “friends” who’ll say things like, “I’m asking because I want to understand” when really, they just want to make you feel stupid and stop depending on God.
In the Lord’s prayer at Matt 6:9-13, Jesus Christ tells us to pray for the deliverance from temptation. Why do you think that is?
Put it this way, if you used to be a player/thot but you reformed your life and settled down to get married, would you still hang out with the boys/girls who want to keep taking you out to clubs? If you used to be a addict, would you hang out with others who are still getting high and smoking crack.
Let’s tone it down. If you want to get straight A’s and boost your GPA, what sense does it make to constantly hang out with friends who only care about “turning up” on the weekends and tell you that school is a waste of time?
As Christians, we live in an extremely wicked society that’s only getting worse by the day. Every time we turn on the TV or our phones we’re inundated with temptations, messages trying to change the way we think. If we leave our homes, we have to deal with people of all faiths and belief systems. We love and respect them as our neighbors, yes. That doesn’t mean we have to welcome them into our homes, marry them, or hang out with them outside of work or business.
This is what the Apostle Paul talked about as “association” in the New Testament. As Christians, we need to be able to judge others to determine for ourselves whether or not they are good for association. This is wisdom.
1st Corinthians 5:11-13 tells us: “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.”
In verse 13, he says, “Purge the evil person from among you.”
The Apostle Paul was telling the Corinthian congregation to kick out (purge) evil-doors from the congregation.
Jesus Christ mentions at John 7:24, “24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” It takes intelligence and experience to judge well. There’s nothing wrong with playing it safe by not taking a chance on someone who appears to be doing what’s wrong. But sometimes, that person really is just lost and confused. It takes a strong heart to take such chances and everyone’s level of strength is different. Mind you, I said strong heart. Not big heart. Anyone who foolishly gives everyone a chance, blindly ignoring the red flags and hoping for the best…well, that’s your life you’re playing with.
“So what, Rock? Are you saying you judge everyone guilty until proven innocent?”
More like I treat everyone like a stranger until I get to know them. Even there, I treat all strangers with love and respect. That doesn’t mean I’ll let them in my home. Also, let’s not pretend to deny the fact that EVERYONE JUDGES! Even you.
If you have a mind with eyes and ears to observe, naturally, your mind is going to form opinions, sometimes of people. If you call me “judgmental,” I could very well say its judgmental for you to say that. I’m not saying its wrong. But when people ask why Christians are so judgmental…there’s wise and rational reasons for it.
Also…Let’s be honest. There’s a reason why you might have a problem with “Christians” being judgmental. Would you have a problem if someone from prison was judging you? No. The reason why people can’t stand being around practicing Christians, is because even if they don’t call you out, they make you feel bad about the way you’re living your life (which is also why some people try to destroy Christians if they can’t escape them and the Christian won’t leave their world).
I know this…because even when I was in the midst of my Christian transformation, still figuring stuff out, being around pious Christians made me feel bad about myself. I wasn’t on their level yet. I was still learning.
I’ll leave you with this, at James 2:13 the half-brother of Jesus wrote, – “For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
Jesus Christ taught forgiveness. We love the sinner, not the sin. The great lengths I’ve gone to teach you the different interpretations of the word “judge” should prove that I take no pleasure in judging. But it’s something we HAVE to do. Thank you for reading!