“You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister?”

The following is an extension of our discussion from class on Sunday covering Romans 14 and 15.

Judging others can be divisive, can destroy relationships & communities and can even lead to war. So lets learn why and more about how to avoid all that, shall we? 🙂

The opening verses of Romans 14 outline disagreements that had arisen in the early church in Rome dealing with different religious practices. As a result of these differences, the early Roman church began to judge one another.

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.

Romans 14: 10-12

A question comes up though: what is meant by judgement in this context? Are we not called to make determinations about plain and evident things we see before our eyes? Shouldn’t we make determinations about good and evil? Holiness and unholiness? Sinfulness and righteousness? I’ve done some looking around in the Bible as well as online and put together a few thoughts that I find helpful regarding the word “judgement.”

Judgement type I. The kind of judgement that Paul was talking about in Romans 14 is spiritual condemnation. This is when we self righteously pronounce a negative conclusion about someone, sentencing them in our mind and heart or labeling them. “ZYZ is going to hell!” We might possibly treat them punitively in seemingly innocent ways like ignoring them. We may banish or exclude them from a friendship circle, a group, church body or even wage public ruin upon them. Jesus did not command us to do any of that. We are called to love others, to be the salt of the earth, to be the city on a hill, and a light unto the world.

Judgement Type II. Aside from spiritual condemnation, judgement may also refer to assessment and evaluation. While nonbelievers may not know God’s commands and therefore live in sin, Christ followers know His teaching and know what has been established as right and wrong, holy and unholy, righteousness and sinfulness. We must absolutelyspiritually discern and assess the world around us.

I’m not “Type I” judging someone if I discern something they are doing is righteous or sinful, I’m just assessing facts…. I’m not writing that person off. If I think less of them or otherwise condemn them, then I have now sinned by judging them in my heart. Paul guides us not condemn each other for whatever reason whether for small differences nor for our sins. Look for higher ground; one of unity and peace.

In the body of Christ there are occasions when we and our fellow brothers and sisters do sin. Jesus helps show the loving and righteous way to proceed:

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.

Matthew 18: 15-18

Jesus himself outlines an approach to follow; one that is aimed at helping a person repent from their sin. The tax collector / pagan remarks can be thought of this way: if these progressive steps to help do not prevail, then it is time to move on and let them go their way; to view them of someone who was brought to the ER but refused care, walked out and is still in need of saving. This may involve establishing boundaries and distance, but done in a loving way… not one of condemnation.

In conclusion; We are instructed not to judge (condemn) others. It is not part of our job description as a Christian. None of us will be giving our account about each other at the final judgement day. Rather, we will have to give an account of ourselves. Let’s behave more like medical professionals: doctors do not condemn their patients for being sick; they diagnose ailments and help them get better!

5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

Romans 15: 5-7

Peace be with you!

Further reading: