Should Christians Judge Others?

I remember the day well. My friend came to me emotionally distraught. She was dating a Godly, cool, funny guy whom she loved very much. She wanted to marry him. She was certain he was the one. But, there was one problem….

…his parents.

This young man’s parents were living in sin. Behind closed doors, they had one of the most abusive, dysfunctional, and broken marriages one could imagine. To their church community, however, they had it all together. They smiled and nodded. Showed up every Sunday. Volunteered for everything. No one around them knew the truth…

…that is except for my sweet friend, who found all of this to be too much when her boyfriend’s parents were asked to teach a marriage class at church. My friend broke.

How could she allow this? How did no one else know? Why was there no one shepherding them?

She came to me asking what she should do. My answer was simple, but it made her uncomfortable. I told her what no one would…

She had to confront their sin.

[shudder, shake head, shriek]

How could she? She wondered. She was in no position to call two older Christians out on their immorality and deceit. But, that is where she was wrong.

She absolutely had authority to do so. Her authority was God-given and plainly explained in scripture. The same authority applies to every believer. But, very few of us know this or if we do, we get it so confused and backwards that sin goes on unnoticed or unconfessed.

We have begun to view naming sin as unloving, unkind, and non-Christ-like. This, however, is a lie.

I’m not sure when this all started or how it happened. I’m sure that the tolerance movement, self-love, and the over-use of phrases like “Hate the sin, not the sinner,” are partly to blame…

But when did calling one person’s sin “sin” become the equivalent of judging them?

For one thing, Christians it seems, are really uncomfortable calling sin “sin,” in the first place. They use all kinds of euphemisms like “struggle,” “challenge,” “hardship,” “burden,” or my personal favorite “cross to bear.”

But, beyond our inability to name sin for what it is, we are equally unwilling to tell other people that they are sinning. We dance around the subject, pussy-footing along all the while essentially ignoring the giant elephant in the room.

But, just like an elephant, sin cannot be ignored for very long, because before long it will charge at you and crush you and likely, kill you.

We openly choose comfort and so-called compassion instead of grace and truth. Yet, compassion does not turn a blind eye. Compassion should compel us to help our brothers and sisters out of their sin.

Jesus did this. He did not ignore people’s sin, but rather faced it head on. He brought was was once hidden in darkness to the Light–His Light. Think of the Samaritan woman at the well.

She certainly had some things to hide–multiple husbands, shame, scandal–but, Jesus didn’t ignore her sin. He brought it out, into open conversation, where the enemy had no place to hide. That woman did not leave feeling “judged.” She left feeling loved.

I’m tired of hearing Christians say that one believer recognizing another believer’s sin is “judgmental.” I’ll say it once and for all:

If you approach your brother or sister in love (grace and truth) regarding their sin, you are NOT being judgmental. You are being a follower of Jesus Christ.

The Bible does not say “Don’t judge,” but instead it tells us to not judge a person’s heart or motives (those who misquote Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged,” need only keep reading to understand what Jesus was really saying) Yet, if we have the Spirit of God in us and we are daily being transformed into His likeness, than we also have discernment. It is discernment that Paul tells us is having “the mind of Christ.”(1Cor 2:15-16)

If we have the mind of Christ then we are more than able and capable of judging a person’s words and actions. However, we are also clearly told that we cannot judge those outside of the church, for we know that a person without the Spirit cannot comprehend the things of God ( 1Cor 2:14)

There are so many verses that tell us accurately how to judge, with love and wisdom. One of my favorites on the subject is 2Thessalonians 3:13-15, which says:

But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

What kind of family are we creating when we are willing to ignore sin in order to keep the peace? We are not peace keepers. We are peace makers. We are brothers and sisters, united by Jesus, which far surpasses any momentary discomfort in addressing one’s sin. For the freedom that can follow is undeniable and worthwhile.

Do you agree or disagree? Have you ever struggled with confronting another believer’s sin or addressed another person’s sin head on? Why are Christians so afraid to judge?

63 thoughts on “Should Christians Judge Others?”

  1. I think we need to know the difference between discerning and judgement. Judgement is to condemn (the greek definition).. discern is to well… discern.. to decipher the truth. As long as we seek to restore and protect the body (community) in accordance to scripture, we do well.

    1. Carlos,
      Excellent point. My understanding is that there are a number of different translations in the Greek for the word “judge.”

      In Matt 7:1 the word Jesus uses is “krino” which tells us that we do not have the right to judge as God judges.

      But, in say 1Corinthians 6:2-3 when Paul writes, “2Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life?”

      The word for judge there is “diakrino” which more accurately means to arbitrate or discern.

      Likewise, the word “judge” does not only mean to “condemn.” There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. I read many definitions of the word and “condemnation” was seldom used as a synonym. More so, it is defined as “to approve, to separate, to resolve, to decree, etc.”

      I’m no Bible scholar, so please take what I write here with that in mind. I think there are many instances, however, in scripture when Christians are called to discern others sin. But, as you said, if we do so with the health of the Body in mind, we have done so in love.

      Thank you for commenting.

    2. way too often, in the church tho, judging motives is labeled as “discernment” Jesus said you will notice the fruit (obvious sin) but also not to judge. Way to often I hear people say they know someones motives and intentions and they call it discernment and they even say they have a “spirit of discernment” which isn’t in the Bible.

      1. Geoff,
        Great point that often people are judging motives and intentions and using a Christian word to justify it: “discernment.”

        I think what many people misquote is from 1Cor 12 and the reference to the “discerning of spirits” as a manifestation gift of the Holy Spirit. I’m sure this is what people are attempting to quote, but they are not the same thing, as you pointed out. :)

  2. It’s controversial, yes, but I’d like to say here that I agree with you. I’d like to know, though, what the outcome of this girl’s story was: did she confront them? If so, did they change? Did she marry the boy? There *may* need to be a Part 2 here. :)

    1. Ha! Renee, you crack me up. The short answer…she did confront them and it didn’t go very well. But, she did what she knew the Lord would have her do. As for them getting married…they did not. She married another Godly man a few years later.

      Perhaps a part 2 is in order.

      1. Whew. Because, you know, they say you don’t just marry the person but his/her entire family. You got supah-blessed. ;) Thanks for the update. I’m also not surprised that it didn’t go over well. People who lie tend not to like being called out on said lies.

  3. We had to go through this with a couple in our community group. Major marriage issues (like one person wanting to be separated and divorced, without cause like adultery). But when we (as leaders) worked to approach the person, to try to bring about reconciliation, we were accused of being judgmental and unloving.

    1. Joey,
      It’s mind-blowing, isn’t it? Do people really expect to be a part of the Body of Christ and live in active, secret sin? Oh wait, they do. Jesus confronts our sin and if we are HIS BODY, literally, then we have a responsibility and burden to do the same.

  4. YES! I wrote a post on this subject last year and said almost the same thing! Great minds…I guess. :)

    I believe another part of judging well is doing it in the context of relationships. When you don’t have a relationship with the person you judge, it’s easy to begin to judge their heart as opposed to their actions.

    Also, the majority of the time when you judge someone’s actions from the sidelines, the person in sin will not receive it. Imagine how much Mark Driscoll cares when his actions are judged on other people’s blogs. Not much, I’m guessing. But I’m sure lots of people think they know his motives without a personal relationship with him.

    That’s never healthy.

    1. Tony,
      Great point! I did not consider this and it is wisdom. Part of the reason God calls un to be in a family with one another, is so that accountability can more easily take shape. And if we are in intimate relationship with our brothers and sisters, than yes, they would be much more likely to receive truth when we address their sin.

      Would you please share the link to your post, as well? I’d love to read it. I have you in my reader, but I must have missed that one. Thanks Tony!

    2. Tony,

      “When you don’t have a relationship with the person you judge, it’s easy to begin to judge their heart as opposed to their actions.”

      Funny, that. I see it more so as:

      “When you don’t have a relationship with the person you judge (that matters to them and meets their requirements), it’s easy for them to judge you based on your words and actions, and play the role of Christian coffee shop victim instead of being a mature son.”

  5. Finally! Someone has said it out loud! Of course we need accountability and refinement, but it can be awkward and hard. I think 2 issues have worked against individual opportunities to become more like Christ: First, the world definitely has this idea that ALL judgement is bad. That to criticize in any way is unloving and intolerant. My sister who is a young christian often says: “…but who am I to judge… if it works for them…” etc. What I try to slowly guide my sister through is that it is okay to say that something is not okay. Otherwise everything would be okay… murder, abuse, etc. Secondly, poor communication has ruined great opportunities for accountable growth. I see it all the time and have done it myself many times: we want to approach someone about a particular issue but we don’t know how. Either we think we’ll be seen as judgmental, or we just know that person will not respond well. Then we either say nothing or utterly mess it up. I think if we worked on how to communicate in christian community… then so many hearts would be saved from pain. I am encouraged more about my gifts than I am critiqued about my own sin. We certainly need lots of encouragement, it just always seems like the cost of encouragement is blinders to the ways we need to change.

    Sorry this is long, but thank you for writing! I appreciate your gentle way of walking through difficult topics. Looking forward to your next awesome post!

    1. Donna,
      You touched on so many great points! I agree that we have been told that “judgement” in general is wrong. Christians have been labeled as judgmental and I think as a kind of backlash, we want to be seen as loving and tolerant.

      The problem is, tolerance is not a Biblical virtue. As your sister demonstrates, many of us would rather let people make their own choices without interfering.

      I agree too, that better communication would make all the difference. Scripture actually gives us rather detailed instructions on the how, but first our hearts must be turned towards the “why.”

      Lastly, you wrote that ” I am encouraged more about my gifts than I am critiqued about my own sin.” This is so telling and so heartbreaking. I think this is the case for many believers in the American church. Can you imagine, however, how much opportunity and power would be available for us to use our gifts, if we were freed from our sin?

      Thank you for your thoughtful and encouraging comment Donna!

  6. This is an interesting article, and one that touches a hot-button issue. Calling something sin does indeed seem to be out of vogue, so I have no difficulties with this part of the article. However, I wonder if this post is somewhat inconsistent and incomplete. Inconsistent in that you hold up the woman at the well, then three or four paragraphs later, talk about how these rules don’t apply for those outside the church. So which is it? In my reading of the Bible, it seems that Jesus is always most frustrated with those who claim to be followers who aren’t doing what they are supposed to do, which I think you rightly point out. But, as you pointed out, He is compassionate towards those who don’t claim to be followers.

    And I think this post is incomplete, as I would like to hear a rebuttal against Matthew 7:3-5. Go ahead and put it in context, and it’s just as troublesome for this argument. In context, the Pauline scriptures you use from 1 Corinthians seem to have been written to a specific church that was having a specific problem. While this does not make Paul’s words null and void, I wonder if we get a more full reading when reading it in proper context. As for the 2 Thessalonians passage, I got nothing for ya. It’s definitely a passage that shows something.

    The point is this: the words of Jesus show us something new, especially when Jesus calls them (and us) hypocrites for worrying about specks when we have entire planks. So how does this jive with fraternal admonition, as Balthasar Hubmaier would call it?

    1. Rich,
      Thank you for your comment. To be fair, I think the Samaritan woman was a good example, only because it was the best example I could think of where a “secret sin” was exposed in love. But, yes, she was not a believer. However, Jesus was/is Jesus so the whole “don’t judge those outside the church” doesn’t apply. I would hope that most believers reading this post would be able to intellectually and accurately distinguish between the two.

      To your second point, I don’t think a rebuttal to Matthew 7:3-5 is necessary because those are the very verses that I’m referring to when I say that people cannot just stop reading at Matthew 7:1. In other words, Christians (and non-Christians for that matter) are so quick to quote “Do not judge, unless you be judged,” but stop there and do not realize that Jesus is telling you to remove the plank from your own eye.

      As for fraternal admonition, I’m not sure I understand how Jesus words in Matthew conflict. Just as we cannot take Christ’s words out of context, we also have to look at the full context of the Bible. There are dozens of other verses that give us permission and instruction on how to address sin in another Christians life.

      Reading on, Matthew 7:15-16, for example Jesus tells us to be aware of false prophets.. Also, John 7:24, 1Cor 5:9, Phil 3:2.

      Your thoughts?

  7. I think this falls into the “gift of prophecy” category–using Scripture to exhort others. It’s not a fun gift, ever. But the key is warning your brothers/sisters in Christ in LOVE. And praying about where/when you need to address things with them. This gift is subject to abuse, like any other spiritual gift. A great series on this topic is Chip Ingram’s “God’s Divine Design.”

    In the case of your friend, I think that’s a tricky scenario since she wasn’t even daughter-in-law status yet, so she didn’t really KNOW them. It sounds like something the son should’ve addressed with his parents, not her. If it were HER parents, that would’ve been something she would’ve had more info about and been able to address better.

    Regardless, speaking the truth isn’t easy, esp. when you’re speaking into the lives of those you love. But those are the very people we’re best equipped to speak with. If you read up on the exhorters/prophets in the Bible, you’ll find out really quickly that they were often hated and/or ignored. But their words were the truth. We just have to make sure we cover what we say in prayer.

    1. Heather,
      I fully believe in the gift of prophecy and am part of a prophetic church community, but I would argue that regardless of a person possessing or operating in this gift, they are still called to admonish their brethren.

      In the majority of verses that reference judging or discerning other Christians sin, prophecy is not mentioned. I would suggest that the only thing we need to admonish or exort our brethren is the Holy Spirit.

      I have the spiritual gift of exhortation, but just because another person might not, does not mean that they cannot speak into my life and offer words of grace and truth. I pray they would!

      As for my friend, she did “know” her boyfriends parents. I mean, she was the only one who did know what was going on behind closed doors. I think we think there needs to be all these prerequisites met before we can speak into another Christians life. Was it an ideal situation? No way! But the Lord was moving on her to speak and so she obeyed.

      I agree that having relationship, as Tony commented earlier, is so helpful and important. That is the ideal. But,even if we are not best friends with a person, we still have a responsibility to address sin if the Spirit is leading us to do so. And yes, in prayer as you mentioned! This is so key, as well.

  8. Great post, Nicole!!! This is a topic we have to cover, because sin kills and destroys!! Heather said it well…before confronting, we need to cover it in prayer. The same Holy Spirit who indwells me indwells my brother and sister in Christ. The Holy Spirit wants the sin revealed and broken so He can work in us and make us useful everyday for the Kingdom. So, you have reminded me to look at the sin and allow it to break my heart, because it is hurting my family member, to pray diligently for them, and to then lovingly point it out. I’ll never forget the most painful confrontation I ever had exposed some yucky sin, and it allowed me to be free. I was told I was being a gossip. Ouch!! Really? I just thought it was interesting information I was sharing with someone who should never have heard it. But the Holy Spirit used that to teach me to keep other people’s information private and confidential, and then He used my obedience to keep my mouth shut to move me into my next ministry of mentoring. How can you mentor when you gossip…you’re not safe. God saved me from that sin so He could use me, all because someone was willing to confront me. I am forever grateful, so that is why we should confront the sin and help our brother and sister to grow!

  9. This is good, Nicole! Why do people think we’re a bunch of hypocrites? Because we allow situations like this to go unnoticed among our communities and churches, all while we’re hollering from the rooftops about Non-Christians and all of their sins. On one hand, we’re so worried about being viewed as “judgmental” we ignore serious issues that need to be addressed among our fellow brothers and sisters. However I’ve found that we think it’s OK to tell someone who isn’t even a Christian, how they are living their life in sin. Christians should confront one another (Christians) as Christ addressed others- in a loving way, showing mercy and having a motive of moving that person towards repentance and redemption. This is the judging we are called to do.

    What we are NOT called to do is judge “outsiders,” they are for God to judge. It is none of my business to tell my Atheist cousin how his actions are going to send him to hell if he doesn’t hurry up and repent. We’re supposed to PRAY for non-Christians. Pray that God would bless them, redeem them, whatever. The only people I’m called to speak judgment to are other Christians- but only out of love.

    Lord have mercy on me if I am found speaking unloving judgments upon Christians and non-Christians alike. I think it’s something we all need to work on. This new “tolerance” movement isn’t helping, IMO.

  10. It’s a losing battle, Nicole. You cannot, in any way, admonish or correct other believers who do not grasp Holiness. They will consistently, and without fail, throw down the ‘dialogue card’, or the ‘Jesus would never say it that way!’ card, or the tried and true, “Judge not lest ye be judged’ card, (even though none of them know how that Scripture ends).

    You are not hip enough, cutting-edge enough, emergent enough, or progressive enough, Nicole. Your biggest problem is that you are legit, and once you open your mouth, (or your keyboard), to correct someone, you will be vilified, and the one needing correction will feel as though they have won. Tedious.

    People clamor for the love of Jesus and presume He was a doormat and an Oprah pushover. They would have crapped their pants when He turned tables in The Temple, driving others out with a whip. They would have been shocked when He called Peter as being Satan. They would be speechless when He called the Pharisees as ‘brood of vipers’, and told them they were ‘whitewashed tombs’. Because we all know, Jesus never spoke harshly. He is meek and mild and has a Rainbow Brite tattoo on His left shoulder blade and regularly cries Himself to sleep at night after watching The Lifetime Network. All that Holy stuff is too Old Testamenty.

    You spoke wisely. But I fear so few will actually read this and “get it”. I liked it, though. You’re a tough chick, Nicole. Nothin’ wrong with that.

    1. Speaking the truth in love is not a loading battle. Our words hold the power of life and death, and sometimes it takes time for them to bear fruit.

      We cannot control how others will respond to us. What we.can control is the choice to obey God to the best of our abilities. The Bible is full of examples of people who called sin what it was, and some of these people were so unpopular that it cost them their lives.

      It is my job to obey God with my words. Beyond that, I trust God “fight the battle” in the hearts of those who don’t “get it.”

  11. This post is so well said. I’ve always wondered why Christian’s have such a hard time with the word ‘judgment’, and I think it may be because that’s the world’s greatest argument against us. So many Christian’s cower in the corner and don’t even whisper the word…and in the mean time, our brothers and sisters fall.

    Thanks for posting!

  12. I wonder if in the case you cite it was really the young woman’s place to confront her boyfriend’s parents. That’s a tricky relationship. Confronting potential inlaws.

    I struggle with two things related to judging:
    1) I notice that I judge other Christians very easily but not always in a healthy, helpful way. I tend to often lift myself above them.
    2) Who am I to judge them when I know my own failures and sins?

    And yet…I do know we have to confront sin. There are times in my life when I wish a dear friend had gently confronted me. There needs to be a relationship there and love, but if we really care about someone and something is destroying them, we will say something. As Proverbs says, “The bruises of a friend can be trusted.” But I have found that most people will not listen to correction (including myself)…it’s like we have to see for ourselves! Frustrating…

    Thanks for the post…it was thought-provoking…

  13. Thank you Nicole for this. I’ve known a new believer that has struggled in their walk with God for several months now. It’s obvious to me that one sin in particular is holding her back. The trouble is she is my mother. It doesn’t seem like it should be my place to hold her accountable. However, after reading your article I’ve asked God to make me usable and use me how He deems best in this situation. Even though I know that means I will have to approach her about this subject. Would you pray for my mother and myself at this time? Thanks again.

  14. Interesting – a friend and I were having a discussion about this just yesterday, as we’re dealing with a similar issue. The thing it boils down to is this – are we exposing the area of sin (separation from God and His ways) in order to help them (which is loving), or in order to condemn them? Obviously what you are speaking about is exposing sin to love them, to help them come back into agreement with God.

    That said, I do see a LOT of Christians address sin in order to condemn – to show how “together” they’ve got it compared to the person they are condemning. To make themselves feel superior compared to the other person – the sin isn’t addressed to help the person back to right relationship with God. I, myself, was that way at one point. But God, in His love and mercy, began to show me that all sin, ALL SIN, comes out of us believing a lie, about ourselves, about God, or about our situation. If we can see things as He sees them, believe that the way God sees them is the truth, then we will not sin.

    As an example, say you’ve got a Christian woman who’s decided that she doesn’t really love her husband, who is also Christian. She meets another man, who’s also Christian, and feels like God is telling her to leave her husband to be with this other man. Now, if she does this, she is outside the will of God in the situation, and of course, she should not be in a position of leadership in the body of Christ. We know this. But, behind the action, WHY is she doing this? What lie is she believing about her marriage that is causing her to take these steps outside of the will of God? How can we address those lies with truth, so she can know the truth, and it can make her free? Exposing the lies she’s believing and helping her see the truth will help her to not only not sin, but draw closer to God. And as we draw closer to Him, more lies that we believe are exposed and the Truth is found, and we walk more upright before Him.

    Now, it doesn’t always work – sometimes people want to hold on to their lies even when the Truth is available to them. And there are times we need to allow the Holy Spirit to be the one convicting them of sin because they can’t or won’t hear us. But we do have a place in it, and ignoring sin in the life of another Christian isn’t loving them.

  15. Furthermore, if it is demanded of us to be completely without sin before we make judgments, as we are instructed to do in 1 Corinthians 2:15,
    by others who get their boxers in a twist whenever their wills are crossed,
    then no one, not a one of us,
    could ever again correct one another,
    no matter how uber-Jesusey we think we are.

    Bring your judgment to me. Bring your judgment to me so I can either stand convicted of it, or dismiss it as arrogance (or you missed the mark) on your part. But bring it.

    If you are ripped up drunk, drink in hand, and you tell me, “God says it’s a sin to be drunk, Donald, so don’t get drunk!”, what shall I say? Will I rend you aside and tell you that you are a non-credible hypocrite, seeking to tell me what to do when you yourself cannot do it, or do I realize that what you said was Truth, and that Truth did not and does not rely on YOU as the messenger to give it credibility. Jesus is Jesus alone. What He said and says stands on His credibility, and never on ours.

    Judge away. Walk it out. Speak like an oracle of God. Make a stand. Either you are right in Christ, or you are wrong in your flesh. Just do it, and stop being scared. Being wrong only kills us when it comes to Salvation. It doesn’t kill us when we just need a good bit of correction.

  16. Of course, we are not told to judge those outside The Bride. There is no benefit to this, since God our Father has already judged them accordingly. So, why waste our time on it? Nope, stick to keeping our corrections and exhortations and admonishments within The Family.

    This is why I warn women/sisters I know never to ask me if the pants they are wearing make them look fat or not, or if they look ‘skanky’. They know better than to ask me. (LOL! Come on, that was mildly funny, admit it.)

  17. I don’t believe calling sin, sin is condemning. Proverbs 27:17 says “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” I think your post runs along these lines. This pointing out of sin, however, will only be beneficial to other Christians. Unbelievers haven’t been introduced to the grace of forgiveness and will only see the judgment. Good post.

  18. Unfortunately most Christians that I have ever seen do not know how to confront problems in love. They only verbally assault others while having a condemning attitude, which only makes things worse.

    I have also noticed that many folks hate sins that are different than theirs.

    Few, take the stance of James 1:19 – being quick to hear and slow to speak, or that of Galatians 6:1 where it states that we should approach the issue without taking a fighting stance, but should instead be gentle and kind about it, knowing that we all have our faults and that sometimes we are wrong too.

    I used to be real bad about this too, and had to learn a lot.

    I liked the blog article I recently saw titled “How (Not) to correct another Christian” (FV). It helps a lot.

    I also believe that we should be Christ focused and Not be so behavior focused. Unfortunately many do not know what that means, what it looks like, or how to do it. Yet, if the light of Christ shines, it will push everything else aside till only His light remains.

    I use non-emotional casual conversations to confront others. So they sense that I am like a calm counselor giving counseling or like a grandfather giving them good advice.

    I base my ideas on the things I see of Christ, His love, and the “deeper life” teachings. I will restrain myself from giving the names of the books where you can find this information unless you specifically give me permission to do so, or request that I give that information.

  19. I do believe that God calls us to judge other believers, but it is based on relationship, as Tony Alicia says, not as an outsider. I think the point Jesus was making in Matthew 7 when he talked about removing the plank in our own eye is that we should humble ourselves before the Lord and seek His counsel and insight into the situation and acknowledge that, in all likelihood, what we see in someone else could also be manifest in our own lives. I believe that God calls us to speak out in humility as well as in love. At my best, when I am talking to my kids about a problem they are having, I tend to acknowledge my role in the issue, because, as a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom, I see some of my bad habits rubbing off onto them or maybe just one of my personality traits with all it’s glories and pitfalls that God has also given to them.

    I think another mistake we can make is to over-react to a momentary lack of judgement vs. a consistent sin issue as we address the problem. To be sure, the momentary lack of judgement can become a persistent sin, but the two shouldn’t be treated the same way.

  20. *squints hard in concentration like Fry from “Futurama*

    Not sure if I don’t like talking about sin because I don’t like to confront my own failures

    or if I’ve heard way too many Christians overemphasize sin to the point where I end up feeling guilty all the time.

  21. We are called to judge each other Matt 7:1-5 (plank in eye, remove plank, then help brother with sawdust), Matt 18:15-17 (brother sins against you, get two witnesses to talk to him, blah, blah, blah) and we are called to teach others (Mt 10:14 – shake dust off feet if they won’t listen to you) but we are not called to be judgmental. To judge is to discern if something is right or not. To be judgmental is to consider oneself better for having a certain belief/stance/action that is different from another.

    Sean McDowell’s book “Ethix: Being Bold in a Whatever World” does a great job of explaining why it’s okay to believe that your biblical morals apply to all and what to do about it.

    1. I should ammend this by saying that we are to judge fellow believers, in that we are to hold each other accountable. We are not to judge non-believers. That’s where the shaking dust off our feet comes in. Tell them the gospel and drop it if they are not willing to hear it. Nothing about condemning them.

      It’s interesting to read through the NT looking for when are where we are called to judge for ourselves whether something is right or wrong.

  22. Nicole! I am so grateful for all the beautiful truth you always grace us with. thank you! I haven’t read the other posts, so forgive me if there is redundancy.
    I couldnt agree more with your point of needing to call sin by its name. I’ve been going through a time of confession and reconciation and allowing Gods light to shine (Eph 5) onto the sin in my hearth. This has been more liberating than I can say. It is incredibly painful! But the relief is worth every bit of it. While ultimately it was God’s prompting that allowed me purge the sin (Romans 2:4), it was dear sisters in Christ who allowed me to call the sin, by its name, outloud. Only when we recognize sin for what it is are we then able to seek freedom from it and forgiveness for it. My point being, that any child of God will ultimately desire to be free from sin and reconciled to God; and although this is painful work, and often very resisted, the end result is always to be grateful. Pointing out sin in our brothers and sisters is good and right! And on the other side, they will be thankful for it.

  23. I disagree with the whole premise. My experience of life, church and christians is that we are utterly completely incompetent to judge well.

    You can justify “judging” from the scripture. You can also justify “not judging” from the scripture. That’s why there’s an argument to begin with – it’s ambiguous and internally contradictory. So the question becomes, “would you rather judge and be wrong or not judge and be wrong?”

    Personally, I’d rather err on the side of mercy.

    Now, as to your illustration: it’s got zip-zabba-doo to do with the Good News of the Kingdom of God. Your couple in the illustration are teaching a class at a social club that calls itself a “church”. The club has a set of written and unwritten rules. Most members aren’t honest about themselves, their lives or their experience of God. They KNOW they are expected to behave a certain way as members of this club and so they work hard to project the appropriate image – an image which is patently false.

    If you start calling out the liars in your social club and censoring them for pretending to be something they are not, you won’t have ANYONE left to adminster the sacraments.

    You want honesty and reality, go to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

    1. This is why I can’t believe your kind of Christianity anymore. It’s all about personal piety and sin management. Where’s the healing? Where’s the part where God makes all things new?

      1. “I’ve been seeing this a lot lately. For example, there’s this one blogger I know (whose name I won’t say) whose blog seems to be leaning more towards fundamentalism every day. She used to be very open on her blog about her brokenness and shortcomings. Yet nowadays her blog seems to have an “I’m right, you’re wrong, get used to it” vibe. It reminds me way too much of Amanda’s family, so I had to stop reading her blog.”

        So brave. (clap, clap, clap) You ask about God making things new? When will you cease with your homosexuality and trying to make it something Jesus approves of? Hasn’t He offered you the chance to change, to repent, to be made new and removed from your selfish sin? If not, then it is no Jesus you are believing in, I assure you. It is a fraud.

    2. I think Jack’s demonstrating something I was trying to get at in my comment, above. Some have what I would call a STRONG GIFT of mercy. Others, of exhortation/prophecy. Often, those two gift personalities don’t “mesh.” I’ve realized this after many years of figuring out my spiritual gift and watching others work with theirs. Also, those with the gift of service might wonder why others with, say, the gift of teaching, aren’t jumping in to help with that next pot luck supper.

      In other words, posts exhorting us to EXHORT might rub those with the gift of mercy the wrong way. Yes, we’re all called to exhort and serve and have mercy. But we need to understand that we each fit into our church bodies and our LARGER church body (which includes the people you’re blogging to) in specific ways. And it takes discernment to accept these differing gifts in the body of Christ.

      Just wanted to clarify this! Always enjoy your posts–from one exhorter to another!

      1. Thanks for explaining this. It helps makes sense of some things for me. I can see your heart for the body to be unified and your ability to discern people’s differing gifts. I may finally be understanding that my stronger gifting is mercy. Thank again, Heather.

  24. Nicole, I had a thought this morning and I wanted to share it publicly with you.

    I give you full permission to judge me. I do. And I am not talking about meaningful dialogues over coffee, tip-toeing around issues like frightened rabbits. I’m talking about spot-on, in-your-face, 100% confrontational judgment. I don’t deserve your wishy-washy-ness; I deserve your truth. I’m a big boy. I can handle it, believe me.

    We have never met in real life. We spoke once on the phone, and that was only because I was chatting with your husband, and you were readily available at that time. We do not fellowship in the natural, have never met , and do not send Twitter DMs or emails to one another on a regular basis. You are on my Christmas Card list, but…you know…why wouldn’t you be? :)

    You are not my ‘pastor’. You are not my spiritual father. You have not been asked by me to keep me accountable. You have no leadership role of any fashion in my life. But you are submitted to Christ, as I am, and we are both in His Family. That, RIGHT THERE, is the only qualification I expect for you to judge me.

    If you judge me outside of The Scriptures, I will reject your judgment. If your judgment is not directly rooted and cemented in His teachings, I will reject it. If you attempt to tell me what’s what based on your feelings, I will reject it. If you try to be clever and judge me according to some non-descript story-telling routine (as is the latest christian fad), I will not only reject it, but I will probably laugh at you. We both answer solely to Christ as our Head, and if I discern you are walking on your own, apart from His Headship in your judgment of me, I will reject it. All I ask is that you judge me according to His Word, because in doing so this forces me to confront myself in His presence, and removes the snares of the enemy in trying to get me to personalize your judgment of me.

    I trust you as much as I am able, but you are not Jesus. You know this. I trust Him implicitly. But I believe He will direct any of us, at His will and pleasure, to confront others simply to measure THEIR responses to said judgment.

    Cool? Cool. Let those who have ears to hear, actually hear.

  25. My very short take on judging goes something like this; Biblical love demands that we do judge. One of the biggest difficulties for most people is their bigotry of that word. All of us every day make judgment calls, we have to. Do I stop at the yellow light or keep on going? A good analogy that puts things into perspective is to think of it this way. If someone is drinking Drano thinking and believe that it is indeed koolaid what is the correct response? My take is to remove that cup from their hands by any means necessary to save their life. Slapping the cup out of their hand will never be met with much enthusiasm, however if they were about to take a big old swig is that action justified? Another that is close to home with me because I have three little boys ages 5, 3.5, 1.5, and soon to be zero in October, is that if one of my sons is running for the street and there is a car coming, but they are oblivious to that car, what does love demand I do? Love demands an active response and therefore necessitates me to keep my child from going out into the road in order to save his life. Ideally that should look like any command from me should immediately and without hesitation be carried out so that if I yell out STOP! They will obey, no different than how we are to respond to our Heavenly Father. Love is a verb and there doesn’t seem to be any room for passivity in a relationship with Jesus. Thanks for all your insight and wisdom, I know that your words encourage and challenge a lot of people, myself included. Interestingly enough my wife found your blog while searching the phrase “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle” on Google in response to being very irritated about how so many people kept telling us this in regards to our oldest son who has Leukemia. It was during the first week in the hospital that she found it and I remember exactly where we were in a room watching our oldest sleep after an LP “lumbar puncture” and a few other procedures. Your blog has been a real source of encouragement to me and my wife so please keep up the good work and thanks for Standing firm.

  26. I once seen a video on YouTube. It was a simple analogy. “would you get mad if I told you not to step in dog poop or that you just stepped in dog poop?” sin is basically “dog poop” I’m not judging you just because i am “calling you out” I’m just informing you that you should repent

  27. To make a long story (which I’d love to share with you sometime) short, I spent 5 years as an associate pastor’s daughter in a church that was “peace at all costs” and constantly accusing us of judging for having opinions.

    Why is it that even just saying that as action may be unwise is considered by some to be judging? If judging is trying to dictate the intentions of the heart – that maybe accusing people of being judgmental is one of the most judgmental things we can do!

  28. Nicole, I’ll be honest with you. I don’t always agree with your posts. Sometimes I do straight away, other times I need time to process them and establish my stance or opinion, and other times I just don’t agree (not so often). But what your writing never fails to do is challenge me, and for that I am thankful. I don’t always like it but ultimately it betters me, so please continue with what you are doing. I’m sorry you had a bad week.

    On this topic, I struggle (as I’ve shared with you before and on Prodigal mag). I think we have to be careful and each situation is individual. People are complicated and there is not always one answer that applies to each situation. A Christian friend recently came to me and has started a relationship with a non-Christian and they are sleeping together. She is struggling with it and is still coming to church, so I know she desires to live right but she is weak. Instead of telling her what everyone else already is, I’ve been encouraging her to seek the root issue. I am not calling her out on her sin because all she talks about is what she ‘should be doing’, so she already knows.

    I believe the condition of our hearts is more important than our actions when there is unresolved issues, because God knows why we are doing it. Our actions start with our hearts and after trying to be good in her own strength for so long, everything has come to a halt.

    I will not judge her sin. I openly don’t condone it, but she doesn’t need to be preached at by anyone else. She needs someone to walk alongside her, and pray for wisdom, strength, redemption and healing. I am not exactly doing what you are saying in this post, but I believe I am doing the right thing in the situation. I told her to stop worrying about doing what she should be doing, and instead run to the living God who loves her. He will give her the strength to do the rest.

    P.s. Happy birthday and I pray an abundant year of understanding, freedom and opportunity over your blessed life!!! You please God, of that I am sure :)

    1. “I will not judge her sin. I openly don’t condone it, but she doesn’t need to be preached at by anyone else.”

      Jesus told the woman at the well, “You’re right. And the guy you’re sleeping with right now is not your husband.” In John 4.

      Did He judge her with those words? Oh, yes, He did actually. She even asked if He was a prophet. Did she run from Him and tell everyone how mean He was? Nope. She went and told people all about this guy she met at the well and that others should come see Him.

      Jesus never accommodates our sins, nor does He tip-toe around them. Indeed, He will put His arm around us to help us, but He will also tell us what our sin is. Some people call this judgment and that each situation is different. Not at all. He changes not. He still, to this day, despite our sensitivities and emotional drama, calls sin as sin and doesn’t ask us for our opinions about it.

    2. Micaela,
      Thank you for being open and honest with me.I appreciate it more than you know.

      As for your friend, I can completely relate. I had a friend in college who was dating a really not great guy and was in a sexual relationship. Problem was, she was not a believer. And on this one, I totally failed. I judged the heck out of her. I judged her all over the place.

      The difference, I see here with your friend, however is that she is a believer. And whether she acknowledges her sin or not, so should you, as a sister in Christ.

      Jesus never tells us to ease out of our sin, slow down our sin, transition away from sin. There is no “process,” as it were. Jesus says “Go and sin no more!” God tells us to just stop. Flee from sin. Run away in the opposite direction.

      I’m all for your friend finding the root cause of her need for male companionship or promiscuity. I had to suffer through the process of God unfolding those things in my own life (it was all daddy issues). But, I also had to repent of my sin in order to be in right fellowship with God–in order for Him to even begin healing me. And this is hard truth to swallow, but at a certain point, we cannot continue in sin and call Jesus “Lord.”

      What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid (Perish the thought!). How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Rom. 6:1-2)

      You are a good friend. I have no doubt, but I believe you can walk beside her as you have done–pointing her in the direction of Christ–and still admonish her to “Go and sin no more.”

      P.S. Thank you for the birthday wishes!

      1. I hear what you and Donald are saying, and I will pray about it. But I do not want her to run away and stop coming to church and stop opening up. I really want to drive my point home that she already knows what she’s doing is wrong. If everyone is judging her sin all the time, I fear she will run. Maybe I need to become bolder, I don’t know.

        I just can’t quite agree with you on this one, despite what the Bible says.

        1. “If everyone is judging her sin all the time, I fear she will run.”

          Consider John 10:

          25Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me.
          26“But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.
          27“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;
          28and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.
          29“My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
          30“I and the Father are one.”

          Now then, if indeed your friend is saved, how far can she really run? Can she flee from her Father because others have made her uncomfortable with their ‘judgment’? I say this to her credit, as a son who went through a ‘I don’t want to be around You or Your people right now’ stage in my redeemed life. I did not get far. It took 2 years and 9 months and I found myself convicted, tired, exhausted, and so full of repentance and sorrow, and what did our Father do? He welcomed me home, said nothing about my childish rebellion, and will remember it no more.

          Perhaps your friend will run away from other Christians and seek her own way with her lover. Perhaps. But like our Jesus said, “Ain’t nobody, not even of their own wishing, can be snatched out of My Hand! I am God. And there it is.”

          She might run. She might try to hide. She might embrace a lifestyle of sin. She might learn to hate other Christians. She just might. But honestly, is she bigger than our Father who tells us He is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man that He would promise and not fulfill?

          Just a thought.

  29. I believe this is a word that the Holy Spirit is giving into the churches these days, as people are praying for revival. I was led to post an article, entitled “Righteous Judgment”, on my own site. The wrong judgment that the scriptures speak of is when people condemn and don’t seek to correct. It’s never wrong to try to save another brother or sister from error. I pray that you will be blessed for putting forward the balanced view.

  30. I really love to see this kind of stuff on the net. I didn’t finish the article. :( Just got too excited after reading a couple articles already and had to join the group. Sometimes we feel so alone in our spiritual calling. Most of the “Christian” world doesn’t seem to get this idea conveyed in these topics. I do associate myself with a church. I do this because I want to fellowship with people who are like-minded. In short, I take the Bible very literally. Pauls (Gods) words can be misinterpreted if one doesn’t read the entire subject matter. I see many people with moral compromise due to taking one small phrase out of the entire context and twisting it for their own benefit. We all, as followers of Christ, need to be discerning of the nature of fellow Christians. If people are compromising with the world then we need to stand up and say something. This is not a popular subject and does tend to cause one to be caste out of some relationships. That is all for Gods Glory. Stay true to the word, smile, praise God, pray, refrain from arguments, listen and speak less. Love everyone regardless of whether they love you. But, always do what you must to please God.

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