At some point or another we’ve all heard the phrase, “Only God can judge me,” or “Only God is my judge.” This idea gets passed around a lot. You may have seen people wear the phrase on a shirt, post it on social media, or even tattoo it on themselves.
But is this idea biblical? Does the Bible teach we are never to judge one another? Let’s look at some Bible verses.
Jesus teaches, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (John 7:24). The Apostle Paul teaches, “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?” (1 Cor. 5:12). These aren’t the only two passages on judging in all the Bible, but this gives us plenty to work with.
Some believe we are never to judge one another in any capacity. But that’s not what Jesus and Paul teaches. He says to judge rightly.
To clarify, and gain some common ground, we can certainly agree we are never to judge in the sense of determining if someone will go to heaven or hell. Only God has that kind of authority. We are taught never to distinguish who's definitely going to heaven or definitely going to hell. God is the final judge on making the call.
We are, however, to be one another’s fruit inspector. We are to be our brother’s keeper. We are to correct our church family in love.
This is how we use the term judge, biblically. If you say, “Only God can judge me,” then according to Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, what you’re saying is you're outside the church. You’re saying that other believers cannot provide correction because that’s only for God…
… If you’ve read your Bible, that’s not a good thing.
Since we are a family in Christ we are to correct and build up one another in love and in truth. If we don’t, the church remains weak, untrained, and unfruitful. Besides, we can all use some regular correction. Frequent tune-ups and feedback are good for us. Correction isn't easy, but it's beneficial.
There’s one further thought I’d like to submit about rightly correcting our family in Christ.
Great discernment and wisdom is needed when correcting our family. Typically, when we learn something new about God or experience a conviction, the natural thing to do it get as many people on board with our personal convictions and discoveries. But rather than pulling people to where God has us, we need to meet people where they’re at.
Before Jesus ascended into heaven he said, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (John 16:12). Also, Paul spoke of having meaty teachings for churches to learn eventually, but they were still needing the milk of the faith (cf. 1 Cor. 3:1-3).
We need to keep this in mind when correcting others. Some are not ready to hear the meat. Some still need milk. Meet people where they're at instead of giving everyone the meat you're chewing on. You’re probably farther down the road than those you minister to.
To provide beneficial teaching and correction, we must know who we are talking with. Rather than yanking others along to where we are, or where we think they should be, we need to meet others in their current mess.
We are to be our brother’s keeper. Correction is something every healthy family does in love. Without it, we don’t grow or mature. Jesus doesn’t tell us to never judge, but to correctly correct our brothers. In so doing, we press on toward Christ.