Christians: Stop Judging Unbelievers

For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. John 3:17

For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 1 Corinthians 5:12


Jesus wasn’t here to judge the world.  In fact, he was kind to sinners but had some pretty scathing things to say about the religious leaders of the day!

The world will be judged one day, but not today. Corinthians refers to us judging the world and angels in the future, as in during the end times. For now, in the Age of Grace, the judging is left to God. 

Paul used rhetorical questions to explain that we are not supposed to judge those outside the church, but we are supposed to judge those inside the church.

By judge, I don’t mean treat harshly.  There’s a right and a wrong way to judge.

Judging the proper way is making a decision about whether or not someone is living or acting biblically.  This decision is for the purpose of trying to correct and help someone.

That is only to be done within the church

We absolutely should not be attempting to correct those outside the church!

First of all, they’re dead in their trespasses and sins. They have no power to follow Christ and Christ’s message is foolishness to them anyway.

We only have the power to live victoriously and obey bible commands because of Christ’s power within us. How could we expect them to even understand –let alone obey?

Let me give you an example of what Christians judging the world looks like and how it affects unbelievers.

I have an unbelieving relative who lives with her boyfriend and their kids.

Someone who claims to be a Christian but was nearly a complete stranger told her she was in sin for having children out of wedlock and made a big scene about it in a public place. She was crying when I talked to her. This person was not kind to her at all. They were harsh and even said that her boyfriend must not really love her since he didn’t even marry her. He also said something about her being a cow which was entirely inappropriate.

And guess what?  Now, she wants even less to do with Christians than she did before.

We’re supposed to be known for our love for each other, not for our judgment and harsh treatment to unbelievers.

I wonder how many more people we would win for Christ if we didn’t go around screaming that they were sinners on social media.

Statistically, the majority of people who come to Christ will do so through a friend — through a relationship. Not through people yelling at them and mistreating them.

We have it wrong in the American church.

We go around trying to berate everyone around us into being moral and living by bible rules when —apart from Christ– no one has the power to do that and that kind of judging is what we’re not supposed to do.

Christians want the world to be safe for them and their children so they try to make a religious society. This has caused way more problems than good giving people a false sense of security since being a Christian is associated with being an American or being moral instead of actually dying to self and following Christ.

We’re supposed to suffer and die for Jesus. A religiously safe place is not part of the deal.

People wonder why God allows laws that are against the bible: perhaps it is because we were never supposed to have a safe “Christian” government.  

We are supposed to be persecuted!

We should be correcting and training those within the church, but, those outside the church, we should not be judging! We should absolutely be witnessing: we should be genuinely concerned about their souls, but not treating them harshly.

The truth, when not conveyed with kindness, is wrong. As I’ve mentioned before,  the only time we’re allowed to be harsh is when dealing with false teachers.

Some things Jesus said were harsh, but He had one advantage that we do not: He could see their hearts.

When interacting with unbelievers, I often ask myself this question: is what I’m doing likely to make them more or less receptive to the gospel?

Remember that the gospel means good news.  Not harsh treatment.

We’re supposed to be ready to give an answer for the hope we have. We have hope that they need.

Are we living in such a way that they can see that hope, identify it as hope, and ask about it?

If we’re being rude,  they’re never going to bother asking.  

The bigger issue than judging unbelievers is that we have believed the lie –the half-truth– that we should never judge. The problem is that one verse says don’t judge, but the rest of the passage and the other parts of scripture expand on how you should and shouldn’t judge.

We are supposed to judge our Christian brothers and sisters.

Here’s how to do it properly and biblically.

1) You better be pretty sure this person is saved because many in our churches are not.

2) You better be doubly sure that you’re not guilty of the same sin that you judging someone else for.  

3) Be aware of how you’re judging. You’ll be judged the same way you judge others. So make sure you’re doing it right

4) Communicate your judgment in gentleness, love, and kindness. They may not appreciate it, but you need to know you didn’t behave offensively.

5) You’d better be 1000% sure that you can back your judgment up with a clear New Testament command. If not, then don’t bring it up.

6) Only communicate your concern if you can be absolutely certain that you’re doing it from a pure heart wanting what’s best for them and not just to make yourself feel better or look better.  

7) You need to be a mature Christian if you’re going to do this.

8) While you’re correcting a brother or sister,  make sure you don’t slip into sin.

That’s how it should be –but rarely is– done in the church.

But, scripture is absolutely clear that we shouldn’t go around accusing people outside the church of being in sin.

We are supposed to be kind to all people. 

We should build relationships with people and absolutely talk about our faith and share that they need a savior, but the abrupt, in-your-face, hell-fire-and-brimstone rebukes that Christians are unfortunately known for is simply not biblical.

And it doesn’t help anyone.

Do you really think a single homosexual person has turned from their sin by someone accusing them of sin, being rude, and verbally abusing them?  

How about by denying to bake them a cake? Do you think Christ is honored and people are won to Him while we demand that our rights to not bake cakes for people who sin? If that’s the case, you better stop making cakes!

Because we’re all sinners.

Is anyone won to Christ while we Christians behave harshly and unkindly?

No! Absolutely not.

And that’s not how were commanded to behave.

If you think it is, you might have bought into American Christianity which is more about making a safe place for a religious society then it’s about living for Christ and dying to self.

May we keep a proper view of judging and focus our correction on the church where it should be –where it is absolutely, critically needed.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

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