“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”
It’s not uncommon to hear the phrase, “don’t judge me.” It has become a part of the modern lexicon, especially for people who are behaving outside of the status quo. While the merits of that statement and others like it (“only God can judge me” or “Jesus didn’t judge me so why should you”) are debatable, there is biblical truth the Christians must understand on the topic of judgment.
In this passage, Paul is addressing Christians who are acting hypocritically. From the context, we see that the people he is writing to have been guilty of all kinds of sin, but have been passing judgment on others for their sins. It’s a familiar situation. We see it all the time from Churches and Christians today. Paul’s message to them isn’t that sin should be tolerated, but that a sinful person must not condemn another sinner, regardless of their offense. It’s like a prisoner declaring that another prisoner should be put to death. What ground have they to stand on?
Likewise, Paul says that anyone who has not repented of their sin and left it behind completely has no room to judge anyone else for their sin. Does that mean you shouldn’t take a stand against blatantly sinful practices? No. Does that mean you should never try to redirect or correct sin in others? No. It means that you may never, for any reason, condemn a person for their sin. For you and I are also sinners who without the grace of Jesus Christ would also stand condemned. Therefore, we do not condemn, but instead extend the grace and mercy that we’ve been shown to other sinners who are in need of it.
If you believe homosexual relationships and marriages are sinful and you are tempted to condemn them, first ask yourself if you are sexually pure. Do you have lust in your heart? Is your sexual sin any less than theirs just because you’re a heterosexual? Don’t be a hypocrite. Repent of your sin, extend grace and mercy and above all, love, to those who you believe are also caught in sexual sin. Show them Jesus, not condemnation.
If you believe abortion is wrong and that all life should be sacred, ask yourself if you’ve ever ignored a homeless person on the street. Have you ever considered another human being to be less important than yourself? Have you ever decided another person wasn’t worthy of your charity because of their poor life choices? Repent of your sin. Hold the lives of every person sacred, and then extend that to those who face the terrifying reality of an unplanned pregnancy. Empathize with their natural urge to take care of themselves first. And show them the mercy, love, and grace of Jesus. Show them the provision of God by helping them, not by condemning them.
That’s how you make a difference, not by condemnation. Repent. Seek forgiveness and right relationship with God in your own life. Then seek to restore others to that same relationship. Not with hate or judgment or condemnation, but with patience and love and grace.
Humble me and help me to never think of myself to highly. Help me to remember that I am a sinner who daily needs your forgiveness and grace. When I am tempted to judge, remind me of the mercy you’ve shown to me, and help me extend it to those around me. Help to bring others to you not by judgment but by showing them the love that you first showed me.
In Jesus’ Name,