You hear it all the time. Someone in every Christian debate utters the phrase "you have no right to judge others!" And, it gladly comes with the scripture supporting this: Matthew 7:1 - “Do not judge, or you too will be judged."
And there is also someone in every debate who responds by saying "would you not warn a child not to touch a hot stove?" Verses are quoted: 2 Timothy 3:16 - "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness," or Matthew 18:15 - "“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault..."
And, I will readily admit, I am almost always the one saying do not judge. Why? Because a) we are told not to do so; and b) judging people takes time away from us loving them - and loving them IS a COMMANDMENT from JESUS.
Now then, please note... I am saying do not JUDGE. I am not saying I wouldn't tell a child the stove is hot. But there is a very big difference between telling a child he/she will get burned, and telling someone God is going to send them to hell. The first - it is my responsibility as a parent to do; the second - ONLY GOD CAN TELL PEOPLE WHO IS GOING TO HELL!!!
The only similarity between the two instances - the person you're "warning" is most likely not going to listen to you anyway. I've told all my children the stove is hot... and every one of them had to find out for themselves. Sure, I could have banned them from the kitchen (they were gated out of it until they were at least a few years old) until they were 18... but that wouldn't have changed the result any. I had to allow them to get burned. I had to allow them to find the truth on their own.
Also please note, when you say "I'm just warning them... it is my responsibility to correct others when it comes to God"... but then make comments regarding them going to hell if they don't change, or actually, making any reference to what God will do to this person... that is passing judgement and your "I'm just warning them" stance is non-existent. "Warning them of their doom" IS the same thing as telling them they'll go to hell.
All this said... allow me to quote the full context of some of these verses used on both sides of the coin....
Matthew 7 (NIV)Personal Summary (i.e. what this means to me): You cannot criticize someone else for their actions when you are just as guilty of sin. Perhaps not the same sin... but you sin all the same. Don't call someone out for being a homosexual when you just got out of bed with your best friend's wife. Don't call someone out for having a child out of wedlock when you just gossiped about that person behind their back. Sin is sin. As a pastor once told me (when I was attempting to justify an action I did as being "less sinful" than what happened to me) - there is no more or less sinful. There is just sin.
7 “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.
Personal Summary: Scripture is to be used as a personal tool for correction. For example, if I am uncertain if judging others is wrong... or, if I think it is ok... I read the Bible. And, I learn from there that it is indeed something I should not be doing. This does not mean I cram the Bible down someone else' throat. If I know someone considering abortion, I can show her Bible passages where God speaks against this. But this is all I should do. From that point, it is up to the person to absorb what the Bible says.. and make the decision for herself, accepting any consequences.
2 Timothy :16-17 (NLT)16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
Matthew 18 (NIV)Personal Summary: This is a big one for me. This is saying to approach things in private. Yesterday, I was having a discussion with a fellow church member. One member of our church is a woman who had children with her at-the-time husband, ended up divorced, and dated on and off for a while. Her children were teenagers when she met another man, and (while unmarried, but living with him) had a child and is now pregnant with another child. Well, this fellow church member I was talking to was disgusted with this other woman's actions. She believed the pastor, or someone, should call her out in the middle of service for her actions... or not even allow her in the church.
Dealing With Sin in the Church
15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
Yes, this divorced, unwed, pregnant mother has sinned according to the Bible. Yes, she may be setting a poor example for her children. But truly - how will calling her out in public serve anyone? My response to the lady suggesting this - either she (if it truly affects her this much) or a pastor should speak with the woman privately. "But she won't listen!".... Well, she won't listen if you scream at her in service either. Matters like this should be discussed privately... and respectfully... and with love. And once what is said/corrected is done, you leave it be. God will handle it.
Also, I do believe Romans, chapter 14 is relevant to this argument:
Romans 14 (NIV)
Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will acknowledge God.’”12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.
19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.
22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
Ahh! There is so much in this Chapter worth discussing, but I will save that for another post. For now... a very brief personal summary: those things which are disputable- do not argue and quarrel over them. God created us all. We are all sinners. Christ died and rose again for our sins. These are not debatable. Whether or not God actually created everything in what we currently know as 7 days? That is disputable, especially if you believe in science as well as God, but completely irrelevant and unimportant.
And above all... you should NEVER allow "warning others" or "correcting others" to cross over to the realm of judging. People always say "Love the sinner, hate the sin" but few actually practice this. They think they do... but its such a thin line, many don't realize they've crossed it. Say my unwed teenage daughter gets pregnant (note... this actually happened to me a couple years ago)...
I could have ignored what she did and simply stood beside her and loved her and dismissed the sin all together.
I could have disowned her, or treated her with anger and disappointment for her sin.
I could have let her know that I was disappointed, ask that she pray, and prayed with her/for her; and then stood beside her and loved her and dismissed the forgiven sin.
I chose the third option.
To me, this is what it means to not judge.