I remember one Monday a few years ago when I received an email from a young lady I really respect in our church. She apologized that she had not taken the opportunity before to tell me how much she appreciated the gifts I bring to our community.
She went further with her apology by saying that this particular email was not for the sake of telling me how much she appreciates me, but for the sake of confronting me about careless words that I chose to use one Sunday.
As I think back about that email, I believe it provides profound clarity to an issue so many Christians seem so utterly confused about and divided on: Ought we to judge others? And then, if the Christian ought to judge another, then who exactly ought to be judged?
And, by what standard ought the Christian judge another?
I believe it is safe to say, without making a detailed and comprehensive argument, that anyone who does not ascribe to the way, life and teachings of Jesus Christ ought not to be judged by a standard to which they do not hold to be true in his or her life.
Even if I believe that way to be the most liberating and life-giving, I am in no position to judge a non-follower of Christ by that standard.
We have Christians who bark and complain and judge the lifestyles and actions of people who do not follow Christ. All I would say to my fellow Christians is that these people don’t follow Christ. So quit judging them based on a standard by which they do not even profess to live.
The Apostle Paul echoes this sentiment.
“What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?” he asks. “Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.”
What we discover is that those who follow and base their lives upon the way of Jesus ought not to judge those outside of the church but ought to judge those within church. This answers very succinctly our question of who ought to be judged.
By simple deduction, if we are not to judge those outside the church by a standard to which they do not ascribe, then the Christian ought to be judged by the standard they do profess to ascribe — the way of Jesus.
The question then becomes: How should it be done on a practical, everyday basis?
There is no question that we are incredibly thin-skinned when it comes to allowing others within the church to judge us. I am guilty as charged myself.
But I believe each one of us must be willing to take the first steps toward making this a regular part of our lives, for our own sake and for the sake of our churches. Who are the people who love you and whom you trust to surround you in order to speak truth into your life on a daily basis?
Who are the people you trust to ask you the tough questions in order to keep you above reproach?
Who are you actively seeking and inviting to hold you accountable to the way of Christ and his cross and his kingdom?
These questions are essential.
How ought we to respond to such things as kingdom people?
Do we get wildly offended that a person would have the nerve to say such things? Do we get ticked that the person only wants to write us when we do something wrong but not when we do something good or right?
Do we respond in anger, resentment and hostility toward this person and then try to avoid her in the future?
Do we justify our words, actions and behavior and then think of the things we could say to retaliate?
The kingdom answer to all of these questions is an obvious “no.”
God uses each of us in Christian community to speak the truth in love to each other. This is one of the ways that God works and moves to refine us in Christ. I am a sinner and far from perfect.
I need those who are in community with me telling me when they see the “old man” creeping up and showing his ugly face.
We must all remove the prideful chips that we have on our shoulders. When my Christian brothers or sisters tell me that they see the “old man” in me, it is because they love me and are trying to help me. It isn’t because they are trying to hurt, wound, or offend me. We miss their intentions too many times because of our pride and arrogance.
Though I initially wanted to be offended, in humility, I called my friend and told her how much I appreciated her care for me as a brother in Christ. I confessed to her (and then later to the church) my sinfulness, and asked for forgiveness from God, her, and my church family.
Praise God that there are Christian brothers and sisters in my community who love me enough to extend grace, mercy, forgiveness, and the very love of God when I fall short without giving up on me.
Columbus’ Brandon Andress is a leader at The Living Room church. He can be reached at
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