Some of you may have heard in the news recently about a prominent religious leader saying, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Some people will nod their heads in agreement, some will shake their heads. However, there’s an issue that many people misunderstand here. People say we shouldn’t “judge” others. What do they mean by that? They say it as if they therefore can’t formulate an opinion or share their convictions about a subject, but that’s not the case.
The Speck and the Beam
Chapter 7 of the book of Matthew speaks about judging others. Verses 1-5 state, “Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. For with whatever judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but don’t consider the beam that is in your own eye? Or how will you tell your brother ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye;’ and behold, the beam is in your own eye? You hypocrite! First remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
Romans 2:1-3 expounds on this, saying, “Therefore you are without excuse, O man, whoever you are who judge. For in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself. For you who judge practice the same things. We know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. Do you think this, O man who judges those who practice such things, and do the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?”
So, in other words, we shouldn’t go around sanctimoniously judging everyone’s failings and meting out condemnation and contempt while we are sinning just like them.
Grapes from Thorns
However farther down in the same chapter, verses 15-20 state, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do you gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree produces good fruit; but the corrupt tree produces evil fruit. A good tree can’t produce evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree produce good fruit. Every tree that doesn’t grow good fruit is cut down, and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”
So, though the Bible does tell us not to judge, it also shows us that we are supposed to distinguish between people who bear “good fruit” and people who bear “evil fruit”.
Moreover, John 7:24 states, “Don’t judge according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” and Matthew 10:16 says for us to, “…be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”
What’s more, the Scriptures go on to say:
“Brothers, even if a man is caught in some fault, you who are spiritual must restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.” (Galatians 6:1)
“Don’t count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” (2 Thessalonians 3:15)
“Brothers, if any among you wanders from the truth and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19-20)
“Preach the word; be urgent in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with all patience and teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2)
“…admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” (Colossians 1:28)
So we are not only supposed to be wise in distinguishing between “grapes” and “thorns”, but we have a duty as Christians to try to help people who are sinning to see the error of their ways and come to know the love and redemption offered freely through Jesus Christ.