By Doug Bell
1 Corinthians 4:
3 “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself.
4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.
5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.”
There is surely a lot of misunderstanding in Christendom about “JUDGING!” Every day I hear some Christian saying something wrong about it. There are those who say we are ‘Never’ to judge. And then, we have others who are always pointing out the faults of others, because they say, they are ‘fruit inspectors.’ As in most cases, the truth is somewhere In between.
Let’s take the ‘Never’ judges first. There are many variations of judgment that have to be determined by the context. Life itself would be impossible if we didn’t make judgments. If we want to make a decision (judge between things), then we are forced to choose. And as Christians we are to “be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” And for that, we must make judgments. In fact where Jesus tells us, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1). Just five verses later tells us, 6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” Now, how are we to know ‘who’ are the dogs and pigs, unless we make a judgment? Here we are talking about being discerning, and Christians must have discernment!
What about the ‘fruit inspectors?’ We could start with Jesus, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone…” (John 8:7). Or immediately after saying we are not to judge, the Lord says;
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.”
It seems that most of the ‘inspection’ we are to do is in our Own lives (cf.2 Corinthians 13:5)
Words in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, May cause someone to ask, ‘what about these verses?’ Or even, what about ‘Church discipline’ (Matthew 18:15-17). These are legitimate questions we must look at. First, we are (or should be) in agreement that the ultimate end of ‘Church Discipline’ is for there to be “repentance and restoration” of the person caught in sin. Paul gives us a good example of this of the man living with his stepmother in Corinth. Paul recommended the Church practice Discipline upon him. But, by his 2nd letter he has to remind them of the purpose of doing discipline in the first place. 2 Cor. 2:
5 “If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely.
6 The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient.
7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.
8 I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.
9 Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything.
10 Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake,
11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.”
Secondly, look at the list of sins that these so-called Christians are caught in. “sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler…”(1 Corinthians 5:11) Notice about ALL of these sins: they are all OUTWARD BLATANT SINS! These are the ‘fruit’ (sin) anyone can look at and see! (Too many ‘brothers/sisters’ love to point out the failures of others, so they can feel superior!) But, the sins of one who claims to be a Christian that we ‘judge’ are: OUTWARD BLATANT SINS!
Lastly, Is there ANY Judging that Christians are NOT to do? There is ONE! Paul tells us in our verse above; “Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.”
Here the Apostle is talking about the “Final Judgment” that will take place when Jesus comes again! Or to put it another way, we are forbidden to judge who is “saved or lost!” 1 Samuel 16:7 “For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” For this reason, it is no wonder Jesus gave such a stern warning: Matt. 5:
22 “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.“ The Word ‘fool’ used here carries the same thought of Psalms 14:1 “The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” The ‘godless fool’ says in his heart, ‘there is no God.’ So what Jesus is condemning is Judging whether a person is either saved or lost! We are to be humble enough to realize that with God, “Nothing is impossible!” And as long as there is breath, there is hope!
5 “Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.”