Judge seems to be a dirty word in our culture. However, the word judge simply means to “form an opinion or conclusion about” something. The Bible says, “Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:15). God desires us to be mature in our faith. One of the ways we do that is by speaking the truth in love to one another. This involves making judgments.
When someone is caught in a sin, the Bible wants us to “form a conclusion” about the danger of that sin and lovingly point it out.
Read Galatians 6:1; 2 Timothy 2:25; and James 5:19,20.
What do these passages urge us to keep in mind as we go about this eternity-changing task?
Read John 7:24.
List instances when judging is inappropriate.
Some mistakenly think that God does not judge. John 12:47 says, “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.”
It is true! Jesus’ first coming was not for judgment, but for salvation. Jesus came to take the judgment of God for all sinners on himself so that we would not have to suffer it. Yet, the Bible is clear that we can reject that salvation through impenitence (Hebrews 10:26).
But the Bible also talks about Jesus as judge.
Read John 12:48 and Acts 17:31
What false ideas do people hold when they think God does not judge?
If God did not judge, what negative consequences would there be for our lives?
Read Matthew 18:15-22.
Notice how Jesus wants us to keep another’s sin as private as possible, only widening those who know when lesser measures are rejected. After each step, if the person repents, you forgive, and the process stops. Even when the final measure is rejected and impenitence sets that person outside the church, Jesus wants us to treat him as a pagan or a tax collector.
What does that mean? Remember how Jesus treated pagans and tax collectors. He dealt with them as unbelievers who needed to be won over!
Based on our study, respond to the following people:
“That church kicked me out!”
“Haven’t you heard ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’?”
“This is my life! I don’t poke my nose into your life and judge you!”
Author: David Scharf
Volume 107, Number 12
Issue: December 2020