“Better an open reprimand than concealed love. The wounds of a friend are trustworthy, but the kisses of an enemy are excessive.” (Proverbs 27:5, 6)
Last night we got into a good discussion on “judging matters within the church.”
Some of us at first weren’t sure if it was loving to call someone out on a sin they’re in, or to call out those proclaiming to be brothers, but walking in blatant disobedience or false doctrine. A brother of ours was thought to be harsh for being very honest and warning the brothers not to listen to a self-proclaimed Christian rapper who in a music video was dressed up as a voodoo witch doctor.
“Only God can judge me,” is often quoted outside of the church, by unbelievers. But, the same kind of concept has been adopted and embraced more and more within the church. We phrase it this way: “Don’t judge lest you be judged,” (Matthew 7:1). But let’s look at that verse in its context:
“Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. For with the judgment you use, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye? Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5)
So apparently, the finishing thought is, you can judge (discern between what’s right and wrong), only if you yourself have first dealt with your own sin. Once you do, you may now approach a brother in sin, point it out to him, so you can, “help him take the speck out of his eye,” so he won’t be deceived and inevitably destroyed by that sin.
There’s plenty of verses backing up judgement within the church. Paul the Apostle pointed out hypocrisy in Peter in front of a whole group of people, then warned the Galatian church in his letter in Galatians 2:11-21 about Peter’s hypocrisy (Peter did repent from that by the way). There are many other times he calls out specific people who are teaching false doctrine or who have fallen away. He does this to protect the the church so they won’t likewise fall.
Paul could have seemed harsh when he told the Corinthians to hand over a brother who was in sexual sin to Satan “for the destruction of the flesh,” and rebuked them for their pride in allowing this man to continue meeting with the congregation rather than casting him out:
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife! And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner— not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.” (I Corinthians 5:1-7, 9-13)
When we do not judge (discern), between what is right and wrong, and confront it when we see a brother or sister doing wrong, that is not loving. That’s like a parent knowing their kid is doing drugs, but instead of calling them out on it and making them leave the house if they don’t repent so they can learn what that lifestyle brings and choose to forsake it, the parents decide to ignore it because they’ll be judging if they call it out.
This whole “judge not lest you be judged,” verse has been taken so out of context that it has now become used as a pass to continue sinning.
Again, you are not to call out a sin if you too are engaging in that sin. However, if you are not, it is your duty as a fellow brother to walk in love and truth, and confront that person.
God always sent prophet after prophet to point out Israel’s sin that they might turn from it and not receive God’s judgement and wrath. But they didn’t wanna hear it, and thus, they suffered greatly.
I fear for the church of my generation, that we too would rather look the other way, or pat someone on the back who is in sin and then wonder why they keep on falling into that sin. When that brother who was sleeping with his mother-in-law was cast out of the congregation, with no soft words or pats on the back, he ended up being truly broken over that sin and coming back to Christ and once he truly repented, Paul encouraged the brothers to then lovingly embrace him again.
May we not get offended when someone tells us we shouldn’t be in the relationship we’re in, or that we are prideful. If they love you enough to pray for you and approach you about your sin, they’re a true friend.
Better an open reprimand than concealed love. The wounds of a friend are trustworthy, but the kisses of an enemy are excessive.” (Proverbs 27:5, 6)