With the best of intentions, some well-meaning Christians have adopted the world’s non-judgmental view of sin. But, if something is wrong, we do no one a service by disappearing into a cloud of tolerance. Warning a sinner of the error of his way can be an unselfish act of love. We cannot be loyal to Jesus without making judgments.

If we are to expose unfruitful works of darkness (Eph. 5:11), then we must be able to judge which works lie within the realm of darkness. If we are to overcome evil with good (Rm. 12:21), then we must be able to judge between good and evil. If we are to restore in a spirit of gentleness the brother who has been overtaken in a trespass (Gal. 6:1), then we must be able to judge when that brother has been overtaken by sin. If we are to admonish one another (Rm. 15:14), then we must be able to judge when another stands in need of such admonishment. If we are to recognize false prophets by their fruit (Mt. 7:15-18), then we must be able to judge whether their fruit is good or bad. If Titus was told to appoint elders in every city and that these elders must meet certain qualifications (1 Tit. 1:5-9), then Titus and others in the church must have been able to judge the fitness of those men selected to serve as elders. And, from the opposite perspective, if the world can know that we are Christ’s disciples by the love we have for one another (Jn. 13:35), then they must be able to judge whether or not we have love for one another.

Jesus said, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (Jn. 7:24). Because all of God’s commandments are righteousness (Ps. 119:172), righteous judgment is grounded in the word of God, both in principle and practice. However, Jesus is not saying that our judgment is altogether blind to appearance or that it never takes into consideration what might be observed with the senses. What He is saying is that our judgment needs to be fair and equitable—soundly grounded in God’s teachings.

No one is saying that we should judge others by a different standard than we judge ourselves (Mt. 7:1-5). Speaking the truth in love is important (Eph. 4:15) as is giving others the benefit of the doubt. But, letting people go unhindered into sin and error is neither loving nor kind. Let us, therefore, speak boldly as we ought to speak (Eph. 6:20; 2 Cor. 3:12).

–Glen Elliott–