Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. (Matthew 7:1–2)However, there is also such a thing as righteous judgment and godly discernment. God does not ask me to be ignorant of the sins in others. He says:
Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. (Galatians 6:1)I couldn’t obey this command if I totally missed seeing sin in others or if I could not discern serious problems that God wanted me to correct. However, both passages say to take heed to my own life. Am I guilty of the same thing? Am I pointing fingers to distract others from my own similar sins? To obey Galatians 6:1, I also need to obey Matthew 7:1-2
Last night I was talking on the phone with another Christian I’ve know for my entire life. He has had a problem with a particular sin and has been that way for years — the word is “overtaken.” I have been praying that God would convict him of it and change things. I’ve even used the words, “whatever it takes” without realizing that He might ask me to do something about it.
As we talked, this other believer fell into a loud and verbal expression of his negative and persistent attitude. I sensed the grief of the Holy Spirit and the Lord saying this is sinful. He named the sin and after a moment of hesitation, I opened my mouth and repeated His words.
At that, I expected the noise of a receiver hung up in anger, but the other person changed the subject. He also became meek, talked softly, seemed contrite. It took me a few moments to realize this was not going to be a fight. I had said what I was supposed to say, and God would take it from there. What a relief.
After that, I thought about my own struggles with that sinful attitude. Was I totally innocent? No, I’d been there, done that, at least enough to recognize this was wrong, destructive, and based on the devil’s lies and not the truth of God. This time, this was not about me, but about obedience for another person’s sake.
I feel meek about this. It was difficult and though I know I did what the Lord asked, I feel a bit shaky even now. Yet God reminds me that the difference between the judgment He wants and the one He forbids is much like the difference between righteous indignation and sinful anger. One is upset because God’s will is being violated. The other is upset because my will is being thwarted. I was upset because the sin was against the will of God.
This tall order was about me in one way; it was a test on the positive or proper way to deal with a sin in someone else. My pessimistic nature now expects to be tempted to go the other way. When will I do the opposite and point fingers because I’m guilty of the same thing and do not want to admit it?
To live is Christ means awareness of the will of God, of when it is followed and when it is not. This is not about the other guy, but more often about “considering myself lest I also be tempted.” The Holy Spirit warns me that I dare not even speak about the sins of others, especially if I am not taking care of my own spiritual life.