I have a friend who is caught in a sin. I care about her, so I try to talk to her about it, but she just says, “The Bible says not to judge!” Am I being judgmental by trying to point out her sin?
Where “don’t judge” comes from
Our world promotes the idea of tolerance. In fact, it seems the only sin is to say that someone else is wrong. The policy of tolerance promotes the unbiblical philosophy that truth is determined by each individual person, not by the moral absolutes of God.
Sadly, when people say, “The Bible says not to judge,” they usually desire the freedom to do what they want without you or their conscience getting in the way. This is dangerous thinking because unrepentant sin separates a person from God (Isaiah 59:2).
What Jesus means by “don’t judge”
But does your friend have a point? Doesn’t Jesus say, “Don’t judge”?
Actually, yes. However, it is important to know what point Jesus is making. The section most often referenced about making judgments is Matthew 7:1-5:
“Do not judge,” or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
When we pay close attention to Jesus’ words, we realize that he is not condemning all judging. Jesus is condemning hypocritical judging because that will never win anyone over. The drunk man at the bar is not in the best position to tell the person on the barstool next to him, “You know, you really shouldn’t drink so much.” That would be hypocritical.
Jesus says to remove the plank out of your own eye. Then you are in a position to judge in the sense of pointing out someone’s sin because you are concerned for that person’s soul.
Keep your goal in mind
There is a difference between being judgmental in a pharisaical, harsh, or arrogant way and making a judgment about someone’s behavior to help that person. God wants us to speak the truth, but to do so in love (Ephesians 4:15).
Keeping your goal in mind for your friend is the key when you do need to point out her sin. Make sure to do it with humility because we are all sinners. Make sure to do it in a way that lets her know you care for her. Make sure you show her what your goal is: forgiveness.
Jesus says, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over” (Matthew 18:15). Your goal is to win your friend over so she can find forgiveness at the cross of Jesus. Love her enough to say something, and pray that she would do the same for you. Tell her that you hope she does!
Martin Luther said, “Christianity is just one beggar showing another beggar where to find bread.” Lovingly show your friend Jesus, the Bread of Life!
Author: David Scharf
Volume 107, Number 12
Issue: December 2020
- Q&A: Are there different interpretations of the Bible? - 2021/07/27
- Bible study: Interpretation practice - 2021/07/27
- Q&A: How can we be sure the Bible includes what God originally gave us? - 2021/06/29