Are We To Judge Other People?

How many times have you heard someone say, “Don’t judge others and don’t judge me…this is what the Bible says…we are not supposed to judge people!” The next time someone says that would you respectfully and sincerely ask them to explain to you the context of what they mean, and where in the Bible does it say that? There is a chance they will take the Bible out of context in an attempt to explain what they mean, so, it is important for us to be informed of what Biblical judgment accurately means.

I am by no means a Greek or Hebrew Bible scholar and have no Seminary degree, and do not in any way want to hint I think I am a Bible expert by writing this article, as I am not even close. Rather, my goal is to cover a general topic using some basic Greek New Testament as evidence, so, please feel free to look up the following words in Greek for yourself for your own study to formulate your own opinions.

In my personal opinion, the Church as we have it today—the Body of Christ—especially in the United States, slowly began entering a theological “cotton candy” phase decades ago. On a larger scale much of the country and world, due to satellite television and the internet, became exposed to and began “drifting” towards an easier, softer, sweeter, more comfortable, self-absorbed “Gospel.” Society in general seems to have subtly moved into the “me, my family, and I” focus instead of others and the Great Commission focus. By that I am not saying we are too neglect our duty to love and care for our families, friends, etc., but rather we must realize that in each of our Christian lives the Great Commission is to be of utmost importance! In this day and age, we are at a point where it is not “politically correct” to have much, if any, discipline in the church, nor any confrontation for questionable “gray area” behaviors or outright sinful behaviors. If we do, then people, including many Christians, are quick to whip out their out-of-context Bible knowledge and quote from the “Bible” where it says, “Do not judge others” in Matthew 7:1. But, they just stop after that one verse, which leaves a huge hole in the fuller contextual meaning of what the word “judge” really means. So, let’s look at this word “judge” as we should, in the full context of what the Bible means, as this Biblical word “judge” actually has different meanings and applications to our lives.

First, let’s look at 1 Corinthians, Chapter 5, where the context is serious sexual immorality taking place by Christians. Verse 12-13 says, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked man from among you.’” What Paul was basically saying here is to confront, discipline, and if necessary, expel and “judge” the Christians committing incest and hopefully they will return after they have repented and are willing to change. However, those outside the church, the non-Christians, we are not to “judge” because they aren’t believers yet, so if we distance ourselves from every sexually immoral person who is not a Christian how will they ever hear the Gospel and have the chance to repent and accept the love and mercy of Jesus Christ? In a nutshell, Paul was saying in the world outside the church there is going to be lots of sin, which is “normal” for the satanic world and this should not shock us. However, inside the church where believers in Christ are, there should be much less sin, so if a brother or sister in Christ is in sin we are to “judge” them. Now, the big question is…what does this word “judge” really mean?

In these verses we just read, 1 Corinthians 5:12-13, the word “judge” is the Greek word, “krino,” which means “to divide, separate, to make a distinction.” Imagine taking a knife and cutting open an envelope you received in the mail to see what is inside, this is basically what this word means…to open up, investigate, and scrutinize. In this particular text, “krino” does not necessarily mean to judge in a condemning final verdict, but rather to “judge” and question inner content and motives, and to evaluate the possible effects certain behaviors and such can have on ourselves and others in the short and long term.

This Greek word “krino” is also used in the verse we started with, “Do not judge…” in Matthew 7:1. It is a mistake, however, to stop after the first verse of this chapter, so for context, here is Matthew 7:1-5, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

In these verses we find the same Greek work “krino” that was used in 1 Corinthians 5:12-13, where, let me say again, the Bible told us we are to “judge” Christians inside the Kingdom of God. Krino is used 4 times in this text of Scripture in Matthew 7:1-5, which means it is an important word to have been used that many times in just a few verses. As we study the entire context, at least two things are clear: 1) We are not to “judge/krino” others if we have not first evaluated our own lives for “planks” of sin as it says in verses 3-5. Example, how can I go to a brother in Christ who is taking drugs and confront him on this issue if I smoke marijuana? I would be a hypocrite, as it says in verses 4-5. 2) After we evaluate our own lives, and have sought and received outside objective Biblical counsel and accountability, and after we have removed our “planks” in our lives, we are to then humbly and respectfully go to our brother/sister in Christ and lovingly “judge/krino” them—perhaps with tough love—and talk to them about any questionable behaviors they are doing in their Christian life. We don’t “condemn” them as that is a different Greek word we will talk about next, but rather we confront them on their behaviors and choices for the sake of questioning them, scrutinizing their choices, and talking to them to see if they understand and see that some of their choices and behaviors are questionable and can damage their walk and witness for Jesus Christ.

Let’s move on to a second word used for “judge” in the New Testament…we just alluded to it, it is the Greek word “katakrima” that is used for judging as a “condemnation.” This word is found in Romans 8:1, which says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation (Katakrima) for those who are in Christ Jesus.” This word, katakrima, is related to the word “krino,” but the addition of the suffix “ma” makes this word the result of judgment…the aftereffects of being judged, found guilty, and sentenced by a judge, “the exact sentence of condemnation handed down after due process.” Here is a way to illustrate the difference between these similar Greek words Krino and Katakrima. Let’s say we are in a courtroom observing a trial, and the lawyers are presenting their evidence…the lawyers are dividing, investigating, scrutinizing, and dissecting all the evidence. In a sense, the lawyers are “judging” the person accused of the crime by deeply evaluating all the evidence, this is the word “krino” in action when the lawyers investigate the evidence stemming from the life and circumstances of the accused person standing trial, but, the lawyers do not make the final decision of guilt or innocence. That is what the judge does.

After the lawyer’s “judge/krino” the evidence and circumstances of their case, they then hand their case to the judge who, after hearing all the evidence, makes the final “judgment/katakrima” of guilt or innocence. This is what the word “katakrima” can mean, a condemnatory judgment based on the evidence presented to a judicial judge who finds a person guilty based on the evidence. So, the lawyers have one form of judgment, “krino,” which is to evaluate evidence, and the judge has another form of judgment, “katakrima,” which is to decide final guilt or innocence. This courtroom illustration can transfer to the Kingdom of God in that we as Christians are in a sense the “pre-final judgment lawyers” who “judge/krino”— evaluate — the decisions and behaviors, the “evidence/fruit,” of one another in this life to help each other grow and mature and prepare for our final judgment, while Jesus Christ as “The Judge of the living and the dead” (Acts 10:42), will “judge/katakrima”— condemn — every person after death for those who don’t know Jesus personally. Now, for those who enter death knowing Jesus personally, this then brings up another word for “judgment” in the Bible, as well as gives us a second application of the Greek word krino. Let’s look at the following: 1) the judgment to determine who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. 2) the judgment of Christians before entering heaven.

The heaven and hell judgment is called the “Great White Throne Judgment,” and it is found in Revelation 20: 11-15. And guess what, the same Greek word “Krino” is used twice in verses 12-13, but, it is used in a different form, context, and application. In Revelation 20, “krino” is used to express action that is not continuous but just right now. In other words, the final judgment found in Revelation 20, “Krino,” is made by Jesus Christ once and for all…forever…before the Great White Throne. And that is it…it is over, and eternal separation from God then begins immediately after His final decision, His final “krino,” has been made. After a person dies and gives an account for their sins and why they did not turn to Jesus Christ for forgiveness and salvation, their soul will have been judged for all eternity once and for all, and then hell is entered into forever after the final “krino” judgment in Revelation 20 that will take place before the Great White Throne.

Then, we have the judgment of Christians before we enter heaven. This is where each of us as Christians will give full account for our lives after we received Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior and was saved/born-again at age 19, so, I will stand before Jesus Christ and give account of what I did since that age till my life ends. This will take place at what the Bible calls the “Judgment Seat of Christ,” which is found in 2 Corinthians 5:10, where Scripture says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” The word “judgment” here is the Greek word “bema,” which means “step” or “base.” Basically it means the steps at the base of a throne. To use a court of law again to illustrate, the seat upon which a judge sits in his courtroom is called his tribunal, so the Judgment Seat of Christ will be the Son of God’s tribunal, below which and in front of me, you, and every Christian will bow and give an account of our Christian lives. Another way of describing the “bema” seat of Christ is the platform upon which Olympic judges stand to watch and evaluate the athletes competing in the Olympic races. When the race is over, the athletes would approach the “bema” platform upon which the judges are standing and then the athletes would bow before the judges who then place various medals around the necks of the athletes depending upon each athlete’s individual performance. So, here is how the Judgment/Bema Seat of Jesus Christ applies to you and me today as Christians: for those Christians who served the Lord wholeheartedly to build the Kingdom of God and fulfilled their particular role in the Great Commission, Jesus will Himself reward these Christians, and it will be a beautiful experience! To those Christians who chose not to be wholehearted in their devotion and service to Jesus Christ and His Great Commission, these Christians will lose some or all of their eternal rewards. No one knows exactly how all this will play out, but we do know it is much, much better to love and serve Jesus Christ with all of our hearts and be totally dedicated to serving in His Great Commission than to have any “question marks” and “questionable behaviors” in our Christian lives and in our Christian witness. Do you and I have any question marks and any questionable behaviors in our Christian life and in our public and private Christian witness? Have you and I left anything “undone” and incomplete in our Christian life and in our Christian witness? At the “Bema Judgment Seat of Christ” it will all come out into the open and every Christian will be individually “judged” for obedience, holiness, purity, fruit, motives, etc, etc, etc.

If we really love and care for each other as Christians we will “judge/krino” one another. By that I am not saying we just randomly in “cold turkey” confront Christians constantly about imperfections. But, if a Christian friend of ours has a behavior or something questionable in his life, it is my duty and responsibility as a brother in Christ to go and talk to him about it. I would hope my Christian friends who say they love me would confront me in love when I have questionable behaviors in my life. Actually, I have had beloved Christians confront me many times about things in my life walk with Jesus Christ, and once I put my pride and defensiveness aside I was able to admit my mistakes and/or blind spots, and then thank them for loving me enough to do the tough thing and “judge/krino” me. When they confronted me, or in other words, “judged/krino” my behaviors, they helped me grow as a Christian, and this is what it is all about…helping each other as believers in Jesus Christ to grow! If my Christian friends didn’t really love me, they would have just let me continue forward in my mistakes, blind spots or sins, and for all we know it could have brought long-term damage to my life and witness for Jesus Christ if they had not “confronted/judged/krino” me. Here is a hard truth: if you don’t “krino” me for any questionable choices and behaviors in my life, you are then accountable before God for not coming to me and talking to me about such issues. Likewise, if, after checking my life for hypocrisy, I do not “krino” you, than I am accountable at the Judgment Seat of Christ for not loving you enough to come to you and talk to you about a questionable behavior in your life.

As Christians, every decision and act is grounds for “judgment/krino” from other Christians, both to give encouragement and thanksgiving for fruitful choices and behaviors that impacted our lives in a positive godly way, and also to challenge and confront questionable choices and behaviors that can potentially confuse, damage, or cause someone to, as the Bible says, “stumble.” So, everything we drink, eat, say and do, and everything we don’t say and do, should be judged/krino by other Christians, as this is what the Bible says Christians are to do. We can help each other develop and mature as Christians when we “krino” one another with respect and love, and, when needed, we “judge/krino” each other using “tough love.” As it says in Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

So, what is the conclusion of the original question, “Are We to Judge Other People…Are Christians to Judge Each Other?” The Biblical answer is both yes and no. For the answer of no, we are not to “judge/katakrima” another person or Christian as to make a final verdict decision that condemns them. For the answer of yes, we are too lovingly and respectfully “judge/krino,”…evaluate, divide, and “check” each other…to weigh the evidence and dissect the fruit of our Christian lives, and when necessary use tough love confrontation. We are to “judge/krino” each other in this life now, but we are to do it after we have checked our own life for hypocrisy, and we are to go humbly to our brothers and sisters in Christ with a posture of equality, not a position of superiority. Imagine this, the “krino judgment” we as Christians apply to one another now in this life is actually a preparation for the “bema judgment” we as Christians will step into when our life in this world ends and we are standing before our Lord Jesus Christ. We can help each other prepare for eternity, and one vital way we do this is “judging/krino” one another!

In closing, two questions: 1) Do you have any friends the Lord is prompting you to “judge/krino” for any questionable choices, blind spots, and/or behaviors in their lives that could be hindering their walk with Jesus Christ and putting questions marks in their public witness for Jesus Christ? 2) Do you need to be “judged/krino” by a brother or sister in Christ for any questionable choices, blind spots, and/or behaviors in your life that could hinder your walk with Jesus Christ or be putting question marks in your public witness for Jesus Christ? As I write this, I am asking myself the same two questions.

SNGM Admin September 13, 2012 Filed in Monthly Devotion No Responses

The Power of a Daisy

She sat on my right during a return flight from San Antonio years ago. As we introduced ourselves and said a greeting, the conversation developed in a normal manner. I asked, “So, what were you doing in Maryland?” She answered directly, seriously, and matter-of-factly, “My son just died. I went to get his body and bring him back to Albuquerque.” I was stunned. We sat in silence for a few moments. I then asked, “Ma’am, what happened?” She said, “He was 21 years old and sleeping overnight on a friend’s couch. He never woke up.” We sat in more silence. We began talking again and she said they were now waiting for the autopsy report, as there was no explanation for his death. I asked her what her son was like, what he liked to do. She said he liked skateboarding and drawing. She began to quietly cry tears of the deepest grief you can imagine. My heart broke for this woman. She was still in literal “shock.” She is a Christian and said she needs to get back in church after this. Her “son also was a Christian,” she said with tears. We sat in more silence. Across the row on my left was a young woman with a bouquet of flowers. I felt compelled to do something strange and impromptu. I asked her if I could buy one of her flowers. She said, “I’ll give you one.” I chose a yellow daisy. Then I gave it to the woman and said, “Jesus told me to give this to you. He is so sorry for your son.”  She had a mixed expression of smiling and sadness as more tears rolled down her face. I said, “Whenever you see a yellow daisy, please picture it in your son’s hands as he awaits you at the front gate of heaven.” “Thank you,” she said. We sat in silence.

Life Invading Life

One of the greatest mysteries about life is “life.” Why did God take that young man? Why do so many terrible and painful things happen every day throughout the world? That grieving mother did not need or want answers because there will never be an answer good enough to “fix” her crucified heart! I continue to learn that I don’t have many answers to my own questions, let alone others. It seems that when life invades our life with unexpected tragedy and penetrating emotional trauma, giving a prayer with a Bible verse like an “aspirin” may do more damage than good. I believe there are many instances in life where answers are not necessary or wanted. Instead, simply expressing and venting our legitimate, raw, and realistic pain from the basement of our heart is all that is needed. Then, perhaps later, logical and theological truths can be made. But, being presented with truth and logic too soon is like forcing thorns into the open cuts in our hearts…like reinforcing the thorns in the wounds on Christ’s forehead. If that woman, like many of us tend to do with real-life issues, had been quoting the Bible, saying Christian cliches and praising God, I wouldn’t have believed her. It would have been a fake, overspiritualized attempt to escape the grief and utter pain her heart was gripped in from the death of her beloved son. I believe Jesus Christ did not inspire me to whip out my Bible and plug up her emotional openness with “spiritual” statements and a dozen Scriptures. If Jesus were in my seat, I think He would have given her that yellow daisy with tears and said, “I am so sorry for your son.” That would have been the most appropriate “theology” given the fragile state that woman was in.

The next time your life and mine are invaded with “life,” will we need full answers or a daisy? The next time you and I have a chance to be there for someone who is hurting, will we give just truth, or a daisy, or, perhaps a delicate, sensitive balance of both? Let’s not just read the following verse, but apply and live the lesson found in it, “Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart” (Proverbs 25:20).

SNGM Admin December 13, 2011 Filed in Monthly Devotion No Responses

Spaghetti Life

She was so happy! A romantic dinner with her boyfriend…candlelight, great food, dim lights, serenaded by violins. It was a romantic overdose. The evening was going perfect when suddenly during their conversation the boyfriend said something insensitive. Instead of apologizing he coldly gave a typical male response, “Just get over it.” She lost it! Grabbing the plate of spaghetti in front of her she hurled it at him, he ducked and the spaghetti went over his head and splattered against the wall behind him. You could hear a fly whisper as the restaurant crowd became dead quiet. Everyone sat there dazed, not knowing what to do as they watched the spaghetti sauce ooze down the wall. There was finally movement when a man scooted out of his chair, picked up a bag next to him and slowly walked to the wall with the spaghetti splashed on it. To everyone’s amazement this man took a paintbrush and paint from his bag. He began to paint around the spaghetti that was now hardening on the wall. The crowd was spellbound watching this man paint, wondering what he was doing. After an hour he put down his paintbrush. The restaurant crowd was deeply touched as this man had painted a gorgeous orange and purple ocean sunset on the wall with the spaghetti blended in as the sun in the centerpiece. What started as a horrible, ugly mess was turned into a masterpiece by the artist.

There have been many times when my life felt like a plate of spaghetti splattered chaotically against the wall. As a boy several things brought not only pain but long-term consequences, things that happened to me that were not my fault or within my control, such as my parents divorce, my dad’s alcoholism and rage, and by far the worst was sexual abuse I experienced at the hands of two men outside my family (to read more on these things go to the “Wounded Heart” section). I suffered from post-traumatic stress, depression, suicidal thoughts and plans, thirteen years of recovery, tremendous losses, etc. Then, there are things that happened in my life that were my fault, bad choices and sinful mistakes and such, things that had negative consequences. I am at a point in life now where many parts of what happened to me as an innocent boy and the mistakes I made as an adult have become platforms for me to connect with and communicate to people who, to some level or another, have gone through similar things. I bet you have had your own “spaghetti episodes”, things that were not your fault as well as things that were, things that brought apparent negative results into your life. Think of the most painful thing you have ever encountered in your life. Think of the deepest disappointment. Think of the biggest mistake. Think of the worst decision. Think of the most humiliating moment. All of those things may have brought hurt, doubt, confusion, depression, misunderstanding, hate, fear and disappointment into your life. Maybe you felt things were and are so messed up in your life that God cannot straighten it out, whether it is one area of life or life in general. It is in these circumstantial moments where important decisions are made that swing life into proper or improper directions. We can either sit and watch the spaghetti run down the wall or we can ask “The Artist” to come and make something beautiful out of something ugly. In other words, if we will let Him, Jesus Christ will blend in and turn the most painful things in our life and the biggest mistakes in our life into something good! I am now able to speak and minister to people about the depression, abuse, etc, that I went through, and every time I speak on such things someone talks to me afterwards and tells me they experienced the same thing and that they were touched, inspired and encouraged by me having the courage to talk about it. God can be the great artist with the skills and power to turn every bad situation around for good! Whether the bad situation is our fault or not, if we know Jesus Christ and are fully committed to knowing and obeying Him God will weave every bit of our life into His ultimate good. Whatever has happened in our lives we can know Jesus cares and that He is able to turn anything and everything around into something beneficial and meaningful to us. Plus, it will bring glory to Him and impact others through our life and testimony. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them” (Romans 8:28). Let’s give our lives…our plates of spaghetti on the wall…to Jesus Christ, the Great Artist!

Because He loves us‚

Scott Nute

SNGM Admin December 13, 2011 Filed in Monthly Devotion No Responses