To Judge or Not to Judge?
My husband watches as I get another piece of dark chocolate out of the freezer. "Don't judge me," I say with a smile as I nibble on the corner.
Saying "don't judge" is really popular right now in a casual, slangy sort of way, but what does it really mean? What does scripture say about judgment? Most importantly, is judging someone right or wrong?
What do you think?
HA! It's a trick question! There is no easy answer, but I think most people would tell you, "Judging someone is wrong. Read Matthew 7:1." But I think it's a little more complicated than that.
The word "judge" gets a bad rap these days. I'm an old-fashioned Philistine if I judge anybody. But if I use the brain God gave me to review, appraise, approximate, ascertain, deduct, determine, estimate, gather, or suppose (all synonyms for "judge"), then I'm not doing anything wrong.
When is judging right and when is it wrong?
I needed to take a close look at scripture to figure this one out. Here is what I gathered.
In my relationships with brothers and sisters, I have a responsibility to point out sin gently, showing the love of God to bring about repentance, while also keeping my wits about me so I'm not tempted, too.
"Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted."
When I point out a brother or sister's sin, I can't judge hypocritically.
"And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? ... Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."
2 Corinthians 7:9-10 and 2 Nephi 9:40
When I point out a brother or sister's sin, it's natural for them to feel bad or defensive until they are ready to repent.
"Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation."
"I know that the words of truth are hard against all uncleanness; but the righteous fear them not, for they love the truth and are not shaken."
1 Corinthians 5:9-11 and 2 Nephi 2:48
If a brother or sister is openly and unrepentantly sinning, I can't wink at it. A little leaven makes the whole lump rise. This is especially necessary for church leaders.
"But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat."
"As ye are not holy, and ye look upon me as a teacher, it must needs be expedient that I teach you the consequences of sin."
I need to give grace to repentant sinners and move on, never holding past mistakes over their head.
"Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him."
1 Corinthians 5:12-13
I must leave unbelievers to the judgment of God.
"For what have I to do to judge them also that are without (unbelievers)? do not ye judge them that are within (believers)? But them that are without God judgeth."
There are plenty of other enlightening scriptures on this topic that I could not include in this article. Please share those that I've missed in a comment. It's an enriching and complex discussion.