I cannot count how many times this has happened.
Yesterday while sitting in class, we got a little off-topic. Somehow or another we got onto the topic of sex before marriage. One classmate (a fellow Christian) asked my opinion on the subject, to which I replied that I followed the biblical principle that sex before marriage is a sin. This particular classmate lives with her boyfriend, which I knew. She became very defensive of my opinion, insisted that her living with her boyfriend before marriage was “okay” because God viewed them as married, then went on to tell me that I was being judgmental by holding this belief, and that I wasn’t allowed to “judge her”.
She is of course referring to the passage in Matthew 7 that reads “Judge not, that ye be not judged”.
Now lets pretend that we were in math class instead. Pretend the teacher asked the class what 2+2 equaled, and she raised her hand and answered “7”. The teacher tells her that she is incorrect, that the right answer is actually “4”.
Is that a judgement? Of course not. The teacher isn’t condemning the student for having the wrong answer. He isn’t making fun of her, or thinking poorly of her for her incorrect answer. He is however, correcting her false way of thinking. How else would she learn and improve herself without someone correcting her? The teacher is not judging the student, but he is correcting her.
I kind of feel the same way when I see someone living in unrepentant sin. This is not to exclude myself, for I am guilty of sin too. On the other hand, part of belonging to a body of believers is having accountability for our actions so that we can evolve and grow closer to the Lord. I certainly don’t think that I am a better Christian or better person than my classmate simply because she is living with her boyfriend, but I do believe that there is a difference between correction and judgement. If someone asks my opinion on a subject that the bible speaks on, I will certainly speak truthfully. That does not mean I am thinking cruel things about the person who disagrees.
Christ had no issues with pointing out those living defiantly in sin, yet he was the one who uttered the often misused statement in regard to judgement. Why? Because he loved his followers and wanted what was best for them while still standing for truth. Christ corrected without judging, and he was the only one who actually had the authority to judge if he wanted to.
I feel like the line in Matthew about judgement has become a crutch for people who are living against the guidelines that God has set. I am guilty of this myself. The minute someone offers me some advice that is biblical and contradicts the un-biblical way I am living, I instantly throw out the “quit judging me” quip. This is actually harmful to me, as I am missing out on information and Godly advice that can help me. When I use “judge not” as a defense I am in a sense defending my sin.
This is not to say that some people don’t offer opinions and advice without judgement. They certainly do sometimes, and I have been victim (and perpetrator) of that myself. However, even if someone’s correction DOES come from a place of judgement, that doesn’t mean there isn’t some truth to it. It’s best to take in that information graciously no matter what the intent, because it can still be useful to you in your walk. Pray on it, and read God’s word to see if perhaps a change needs to be made there.
Just something i’ve been pondering on today. Pardon my rambling.