“Judge not, that ye be not judged.” So says the Scripture. And from this many believers have concluded that Christians ought not to form opinions or make judgments about the conduct of other people. At best this view is only partially accurate and needs to be set within a larger context.

We should remember three things about men’s judgments. First, men must make judgments about other men’s thoughts and conduct. Otherwise it would be impossible to enjoy an ordered society. The rightness or wrongness of the relations between men in civil and criminal affairs demands judgments. Without judgment our jails would be emptied and the wicked would be free to abuse the righteous. Our Lord himself spoke approvingly of a judge who carried out his duty of judging (Luke 18:6). Paul specifically says Christians are to make judgments when there are disputes among them (1 Cor. 6:1–8). If they did not, there could be no discipline within the Church. They could not refuse men baptism, nor could they practice excommunication.

Secondly, all human judgments, those of believers and unbelievers alike, are subject to error, no matter how desirous men are to judge justly. In this sense their judgments are tentative and lack finality. Men see darkly, think erroneously, and often draw varying conclusions from the same set of facts. That is why the Supreme Court of the United States has nine judges, and more often than not the judges are divided in their decisions.

Thirdly, men need to be careful how they judge, because the basis on which they make their judgments will be the basis on which they themselves are ultimately judged by God. Clearly men ought not to use one set of standards for themselves and another for other people. ...

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