Almost every Christian has heard this verse or phrase or some version of it. It is one of the most used and abused phrases by a variety of people inside and outside the church. To an extent, I agree with the use of it about 35% of the time. (I know, 35% is not a staggering figure!) Many people use it in an attempt to condemn others, yet we as Christians know that judgment is up to Christ. This is my biggest problem with “fruit checkers” because it slides down this slope all too often.
But the other 65% of the time this phrase is used, I loathe it. It has come to the point where fellow Christians use the “don’t judge” verse as a scapegoat not to help a brother or sister in sin. It has become for them a license to be a silent observer as another shipwrecks their faith.
The question I want to ask is, Are we abiding in God’s Word when we sit silently by?
You shall love your neighbor as yourself. -Mark 12:31
If I were walking in sin and headed down a dangerous path, I pray that the people close to me would care enough to speak up. Scripture tells us:
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. -2 Peter 3:9
The least we as fellow Christians can do is to remind our neighbor of God’s love and his desire for their repentance. As Christians, we know God’s law is useful to reveal our sin and also to guide our lives. When consulting the full counsel of Scripture, the apostle John comments on the matter also:
“If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life.”
-1 John 5:16
The love of neighbor is NOT standing on the sidelines and watching one slowly apostatize themselves. We are instructed to pray and lovingly help.
People subtly stand on their soapbox typically when they say, “You should not judge,” but if we’re going to cherry-pick Scripture, we should at least finish the whole passage:
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
When the passage is viewed fully, Christ is talking about hypocritically judging. And in verse 5, he appears to authorize the attempt of one person to help take the speck out of a neighbor’s eye. It is a fact that we all sin and we all can be corrected daily for our transgressions. It is also a fact that God came to us, bore our sins and redeemed us. As a result, there is no condemnation for those in Christ (Romans 8:1). Knowing how much forgiveness Christ has imparted on me, how can I not share this? When our neighbor is in sin, he or she needs the gospel. We need to share with them the news of the Redeemer.
We all yearn to be accepted by other people. Attempting to address a serious issue with a brother or sister in Christ can be a daunting event. Many will not say it, but in practice, they believe they are above reproach. This makes that job, though necessary at times, also difficult. It’s difficult because we all have a little Pharisee in us that doesn’t want to rock the boat out of fear of rejection. But we have to remember that our identity and acceptance is not validated in, or by, others’ approval. Theologian, Michael Horton said, We are no longer trying to live up to the starring role we’ve given ourselves, but are written into the story of Christ.
Do you know that you have been baptized into Christ and have put on Christ (Gal. 3:27)? You are his and nobody’s opinion about you will change his mind. Be secure that your value is in Christ, and then feel free to share the most beautiful news to help a brother or sister in love.