Judgement

“Bachelorette Hannah Brown is over being slut-shamed.”

That headline caught my eye recently. It seems Brown claims to be a Christian, but when one of the bachelors appearing on the popular television show confronted her about having sex with another contestant, Brown booted him off the show for his disapproval. The man, Luke Parker, is also a Christian and reminded Hannah of the Scripture that says the marriage bed is to be kept pure.

During a reunion show with the contestants a few weeks later, Brown responded, “I am so over being slut-shamed and being felt like that makes me not a woman of faith, because, oh, my gosh. I live my life and make mistakes and sin every single day, and so do you … I have had sex, and honestly, Jesus still loves me. Guess what? Sex might be a sin out of marriage, pride is a sin, too, and I feel like this is a pride thing.”

Brown’s response reflects two erroneous ideas that are becoming increasingly popular among young Christians today.

The first is that sin doesn’t matter.

The Bible does promise the blood of Christ can cleanse every sin. But followers of Christ are called to live distinctive, Godly lives. The Apostle Paul asked, “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”

Of course, we’re never going to live perfect lives, but we are to strive for perfection. And we are to confess and forsake our sins. Bible teacher Warren Wiersbe said the Christian is never sinless, but we should sin less and less. A flippant attitude toward sin is a sign that our conscience is being seared, and we’re in danger of apostasy.

Hebrews 10:26-27 warns, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.”

The second erroneous idea is the notion that no Christian should ever pass judgment on the behavior of another. After all, didn’t Jesus say, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged”?

That phrase is a favorite with those who think there are no absolute standards of morality and that right and wrong should be determined individually. How many times have you heard, “Who are you to judge?” Or, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone!” from people who insist we should never evaluate the appropriateness of someone else’s belief or behavior?

However, the same Jesus who said, “Don’t judge,” also said, “‘Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit, you will recognize them’” (Matthew 7:15-16).

The Son of God did not contradict Himself, so obviously when Jesus said, “Don’t judge,” He was not forbidding the use of God-given wisdom to discern right from wrong or to examine the fruit of another’s life.

Jesus also instructed His disciples, “‘If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him’” (Luke 17:3).

John the Baptist judged King Herod for living with his brother’s wife. Simon Peter judged Ananias and Sapphira for lying to the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul judged Elymas, the sorcerer, saying, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right!”

It’s imperative we practice careful discernment about the person we marry, the people we hire, those we trust with our money and those we allow to babysit our children. There’s a national outrage right now about the sexual abuse of women. No one protests, “Don’t judge!” because we know instinctively that we have a right and a responsibility to make judgments about the character of the accused.

What exactly was Jesus forbidding when he said, “Do not judge?” I think the needed, delicate balance can be summed up as follows:

> Don’t judge unless you have first examined your own life and motives. “‘First take the plank out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye’” (Matthew 7:5).

> Don’t judge unless you are willing to have the same standard imposed upon you. Matthew 7: 2 says, “‘For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.’” (That’s why it’s always wise to err on the side of grace.)

> Don’t judge anyone’s eternal destiny. Consigning someone to heaven or hell is a prerogative that belongs only to God since He’s the only One who sees the total picture. “Don’t condemn or you will be condemned.”

> Don’t judge others unless it’s constructive to do so. Jesus didn’t say to take the log out of your eye and then ignore your brother. No, that speck in his eye is painful. For his sake and for the sake of others who are depending on him, help him remove the speck. That’s the loving thing to do. Galatians 6:1 instructs us: “If someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.”

If someone approaches you about a blind spot in your life or about some gross transgression, don’t lash out in anger or accuse them of a commensurate sin. Evaluate what they have to say and be gracious. When Nathan told King David that his adultery with Bathsheba had incurred God’s wrath in 2 Samuel 12, David responded with an honest admission of the facts and a humble spirit of repentance.

“Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise. Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding” (Proverbs 15:31-32).

Bob Russell is retired senior minister of Southeast Christian Church and founder of Bob Russell Ministries.