Matthew 7: 1 Do not judge, or you too will be judged.
I was a senior in high school and was the captain of our soccer team. I became increasingly frustrated with some key players as they seemed to spend more time getting into fights on the field than actually playing the game of soccer. The coach had no control of them and clearly nothing I said had any impact on them whatsoever. I thought they were just a bunch in immature boys trying to impress their buddies and the girls on the sidelines with their bravado.
I could have used a good dose of Mathew 7 back then. I wish a Christian had sat me down and explained the concept of judging, which is a heart issue. I had no real concern for the guys on my team. I wanted to win, and they were standing in the way. I don’t ever recall praying for them, or taking the time to find out why they were lashing out. I was too busy judging them and coming to my own conclusions. If I had internalized Matthew 7, I would have read about the plank in my eye (vv 3-4). I judged these guys, but I, a Christian, was a clanging gong and a resounding cymbal (1 Corinthians 13:1) as I ran around without love.
What I described above is where people usually end up when reading Matthew 7, but there is so much more in this chapter. You see there is a place for judging if we are mature, humble and loving Christians. Matthew 7:5 says: “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.” From this we can conclude not only that we shouldn’t be hypocrites, but that there are times where we can assist in removing the speck from our brother, but it has to begin in a place of humility where we judge ourselves first and actually deal with our own issues.
Back to my example, my teammates were not Christians, and I had no business judging them. I should have spent time praying for them and loving them and looking for an opportunity to share Jesus with them. In contrast to this however, there have been times where I have felt God urge me to get involved with what was going on with my Christian brothers and sisters. I have felt discernment from the Holy Spirit regarding situations and often specifically about their sin.
When teaching on this sensitive topic, I generally provide the following guidelines when considering whether we should share our judgement with others. Firstly, it is God through the Holy Spirit who gives us revelation, and the primary point of that is for us to intercede for our brothers and sisters. In John 17:15 Jesus interceded and prays that God protect his disciples from the evil one. Secondly, we should judge the situation and not the person. Thirdly we need to go to God in repentance for our own sins before we take on pointing out the sin of others. We know we have done this when we see our own sin as a “plank” and the sin of others as “specks”. Fourthly, make sure you have a relationship with the person you feel called to speak to (it is not always so, but it is rare that God will call you to confront a stranger with judgement). Finally, and most importantly, be sure that God is calling you to do this. If you have no supernatural peace, then I would question doing anything more than praying. It may be wise to reference with someone else you trust before proceeding. If you continue to feel you are called to judge the situation, then do so with gentleness and respect (1 Timothy 5:1; 2 Timothy 2: 24-26).