Question: Is it biblically correct when people say, ‘It’s not our place to judge others, only God should judge’ — or are there times when it is right for us to judge others?
To “judge” in English carries a variety of meanings. Usually we mean passing judgment, determining right from wrong. This is also the way “judge” is typically used in the Bible:
Genesis 16:5 “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my servant in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me.”
The Hebrew word Sarai uses for “judge” is “qal,” which means to “act as law-giver, judge, governor (giving law, deciding controversies and executing law, civil, religious, political, social…”
The New Testament Greek equivalent is “krinw:”
Matt. 7:1-2 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
People often take this saying in Matthew out of context when they say, ‘You have no right to judge me.’ But “Do not judge” means in this context, “don’t be judgmental,” because one day we will want God to show mercy toward us:
1 Pet. 4:5 But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.
The truth is, it is absolutely biblical and necessary for people to judge right and wrong behavior in others. It is not, however, always appropriate for us to pass judgment:
Rom. 14:4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Accurately judging between right and wrong requires a baseline to judge by. Believers in Jesus Christ operate on the basis of biblical teaching. The world outside of Christ operates on a much different set of values:
1 Cor. 5:12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?
1 Cor. 6:2, 5 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? …I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers?
The ability to judge between right and wrong sets humanity apart from animals. The right to exercise judgment as vengeance belongs to God (Dt. 32:35; Rom. 12:19). And the ability to pass judgment for salvation and eternal damnation is reserved for God alone (Ja. 4:12). God has given humanity a conscience, His Word and His Son to show us right from wrong. He has given believers His Holy Spirit who enables us to judge between righteousness and sinfulness. Exercising godly judgment now under the authority and guidance of God’s Word illuminated by the Holy Spirit trains us for that day when we will reign with Jesus, exercising judgment:
Rev. 20:4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge.
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