I have been struggling with having an opinion and judging. I know we have no authority to judge. However, n my daily life, I can’t help having an opinion about people around me. There are people who are nice/mean/responsible/unwise/ bad team players ect. I don’t know the line between having an opinion and judging others. What verses in the Bible are related to this topic?
Can anyone help?
Thank you and blessings!
This a great subject and I am glad that you have raised it. I think that, if we are honest, this is a struggle that everyone faces in their lives. It is sometimes difficult to really know the difference between when we are being discerning in our opinions of others, and when we are simply just being overly judgmental and condemning in our thoughts about them.
There are a couple of things that I want to look at in relation to this subject. First of all, in Proverbs 4:10-16, “Hear my son and accept my words, that the years of your life may be many. I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble. Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life. Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on. For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong; they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble.”
This is just one example of some of the wisdom literature of the Proverbs. You can see here that we are not called to condemn evil people, but we are most certainly called to be discerning and to avoid their ways. This involves us evaluating people in our lives and determining if they are the right kind of people to be hanging around, or if we should avoid them. There is no way to avoid the fact that this involves a certain amount of judgement, and that leads to my next part of the Scriptures that I want to look at.
In John 7:24 Jesus says this, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgement.”
Jesus states plainly that we are to make judgements, but that we are not to do so based on appearances. We are to look at the heart of those whom we are making a judgement about. We must evaluate them by the standards of Scripture, not by our feelings or personal opinions.
There are indeed nice people, mean people, responsible people, unwise people, etc…in this world. But how do we know who is who? Well, we must look at the fruit of their lives, evaluate them, and make a fully informed and right judgement about them. Proverbs tells us that this is the application of wisdom and calls us to do it. How can we avoid the paths of the wicked unless we first evaluate that the path we are looking at indeed leads to wickedness? How are we to discern the mean and unwise people from the responsible and kind people unless we look at the fruit of their lives and make a judgement of what we see? The key to all of this is to make that judgement from a right knowledge of the Scriptural standards and commands that we are given to follow, not simply from our initial gut feelings or opinions.
One final portion of Scripture that I believe is helpful in this area of life is Galatians 5:16-26, “But I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”
Paul gives us a very detailed description here of the differences between one who is living in the works of the flesh, to one who is living by the works of the Spirit. Now, how do we know the difference? We must look at each person and the works of their life, and then we must evaluate the fruit that we see their lives producing by the Scriptural standards laid out for us. We cannot avoid making judgments, but we can ensure that we are following the Scriptural standards for making those judgments. That is indeed what we are instructed to do in our lives. Not just to go around judging people by our personal standards, but to judge with the right judgement of Scriptural standards, and to use those judgments to avoid the paths of evil in our lives.
I hope that this helps to answer your question Michelle. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask them. May God grant you wisdom and understanding as you seek the truth that only He can give. God bless you and thank you.
I would like to thank both Michelle and Matthew for writing this down. I too struggle, I have such strong initial reactions when I see badness I often forget to “to hate the sin and not the sinner”.
So incredibly helpful thank you thank God Bless
Thank you so much brother Matthew for your detailed explanation! Your input is very helpful!
I think the reason/ motivation we are making some “judgement” is essential! If I do it in order to be closer to be with God/ more away from the temptation in this world, that is necessary in my faith.
In order to examine/ observe the fruit, it takes time and wisdom. For me, that means a lot of time and even some intimacy. To be honest, people are so good at presenting the good side of themselves now, as a result, the fruit is deceitful. When I think of this, there is really fewer than a handful of people that I can really evaluate. I am at peace with this because only God has the power/ ability to see people’s hearts, that can be one of the reasons that only He can judge. I must admit the limitation as His creation.
Do you think this tells us that our God wants us to mind our own business? I think it is more important to examine the fruit I myself bear not others’. When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”(John 21:21-22 NIV)
I am also aware that as his followers, we do need to care about others’ walk in Christ and give support/ reminders even rebuke when necessary.
That is my thought to your answer, thank you again for your input!
I could not agree more. It certainly takes time to get to know someone enough to make a fully informed judgement about their character and the fruit in their lives. I think there are some things that are more up front in a person’s life than others as well. Wisdom has a lot to do with it and I think that the more we study God’s word, and pray to Him for wisdom and discernment, the better we get at seeing some of these things more readily. But we must always remember the words of John 7:24 and not be too hasty to judge the outward appearances, but to be sure that we are actually examining the fruit of a person’s life.
There are certainly some skillfully deceptive people out there, but I do not believe that they can disguise bad fruit as good fruit. Personality traits such as dishonesty or anger can be suppressed or hidden for a time, but the results of such living will eventually give away the truth in the outworkings of their lives. Whether this is in the things they do for recreation, or in their family life, their spiritual life, etc… I believe this is what Paul meant by the fruit that we are supposed to look for. So often, people are indeed skilled at deceiving others at first glance, but in further analysis, the a fruit of a persons life will eventually reveal the truth of who they serve as master, whether that is Jesus Christ, or themselves.
Trying to evaluate someone by how good they present themselves to be is not a method that is likely to see success, however, because God’s word tells us in Romans 3:12, “All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, there is not even one.”
We are all as bad at recognizing what is truly good, as we are at living out what is truly good. That is one reason why we must study God’s word with all the intensity of a drowning man clutching at a life preserver, because in a world that is drowning in sinfulness, it is our only hope of staying afloat. The only true source and Judge of good is God, as Jesus told us in Luke 18:19, “No one is good except God alone.” Only He can give us the true wisdom and discernment that we require to be able to make the proper evaluation of the fruit in anyone’s life, including, most importantly, our own.
So, I most definitely agree with your next statement:
Absolutely. I am in complete agreement with you on that Michelle. How can one evaluate the speck in a brother’s eye unless they have first removed the plank in their own? We must evaluate ourselves most of all. Each day is a renewed opportunity to commit ourselves to Christ and produce the spiritual fruit in our own lives that will serve to bring Him more glory. We must be committed to Him and to growing closer to Him in all aspects of our lives. If we wish to help guide someone along the path to Christ, we must be sure that we are first walking the correct path ourselves to do so.
Matthew 28:19-20 tells us this, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
I think the Great Commission tells us that we are to do just the opposite of minding our own business. We are to go forth and preach the gospel to all the nations and peoples. We are to share this good news with everyone whom we can. Now, I do not believe that this means we are to simply go out and badger people, or to try and force them to hear something that they do not want to hear. We can, however, be faithful witnesses to people, even if they do not want to hear about our beliefs. I believe we accomplish this by doing what you mentioned earlier, evaluating the fruit in our own lives and demonstrating the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts for others to see. But I do not get the feeling that God wants us to simply mind our own business. We must share the good news with all who will hear it.
In the final analysis, I think that the majority of our judgement should be focused on ourselves, and on our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. As Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 , “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.”
The true purpose of our judgement/evaluations of those outside the church should be for the purposes of avoiding their ways of living, not for correcting them. For, if they have not committed themselves to live for Christ, we should certainly share the Gospel with them, but we should not judge them as we would a brother or sister within the church.
Finally, we are told that we must both hear the word, and do what the word tells us to do. In James 1:21-25, “Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and what remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer, but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.”
It is through living this out that we both grow closer in our walk with Christ, and provide a proper witness to those around us.
It is unavoidable, there are times when we must evaluate and judge those around us. However, I maintain that the majority share of our judgement should be within the body of Christ(the church) itself, and within ourselves. But let us be sure that we are studying God’s word faithfully and entrusting our judgement to His standards, not our own. In the final analysis, the only true standard that we should be following, is the one that He provides to us through His word, and we should submit ourselves daily to that standard in our lives.
I love your answer and your heart for the truth Michelle. As “iron sharpens iron,” may we continue to grow in the knowledge of His word together. God bless you and thank you.
What an interesting question! Thank you for bringing this up I have pondered about this question and I can’t help but ask another. What does God or Jesus say about judgment? Let’s take a careful look on some verses in the bible that we could start for a discussion.
“For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son.” John 5:22
“I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.” John 12:46–48
Because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead. Acts 17:31
On the first verse, the Father has committed authority of judgment to the Son. Second, on the following chapters His Son Jesus went on to say that he did not incarnate into this world so he will judge but to save it. Thirdly, the last verse pertains that judgment will not happen today but there is an appointed day of judgment. What exactly will be judged? I’ll go straight and say that Jesus will judge our standing with God.
Are we righteous before the Lord? Are we worthy in God’s presence when the day of judgment comes? These are terrifying questions because Romans 3:23 says that we all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. No one is righteous before God. If we are to face judgment today, no one will pass God’s righteousness. What the bible pertains to judgment is our standing with God.
If we go back to the beginning when Adam and Eve have sinned against the Father, men have fallen short of God’s glory and that we are cut off from His presence. This sin has corrupted us as human beings. In Noah’s flood, because of the corruption of the world, God has allowed flood to wipe out humanity except for Noah’s family. Noah and his family then went on to populate the world once more and here we are, as humanity, never better than the time of Sodom and Gomorrah. It showed that sin is not something that we do or that is ‘out there’ but already ‘in us’, in our hearts. Even if we are to wipe out the world once more and leave it to one faithful man to start the world anew, sin has already crept into our hearts.
That is why Jesus himself came into the world to save us from God’s wrath and judgment. He paid the atonement of sin that we should be paying ourselves. Through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we have a way out through his grace. Jesus became the way so we could reconcile with God and be in righteous standing before the Lord. On an appointed time in the future, when we stand before God, He will judge whether we have come to the one True Way to the Father and be with Him forever. In Matthew 7:21-23 it says that many will come and say “Lord, Lord…” but not all will enter the kingdom of heaven. There will be true and false disciples and Jesus will separate those he knew and those he doesn’t. This judgment is not within our hands but only God’s. And so we cannot go to a brother and sister and tell them they are bound to heaven or hell according to what we know or our own standard. God has revealed to us clearly the One way to Him and that is through Jesus and we are not to make a set of rules on our own and tell people other ways we could be reconciled to the Father. Good works or good humanitarian actions will not save us from judgment. Adhering to good morals will not either. And in this pluralistic society where we are given the choice to pick our preferences, the way to the kingdom of heaven has falsely multiplied. Sure God has given us the brilliance of the human mind which is not present in animals allowing us to assess our actions, have opinion about everything and anything. You are right that we all have opinions about others and it could be good or bad. What Jesus asks us to do in these situation is to be ‘discerning’ rather than ‘condemning’. We are also to carefully assess ourselves and self-reflect before we could point out to other’s. This asks us to live godly lives instead of hypocrisy saying one thing and doing another. Michelle, when you mentioned that you can’t help but have an opinion about the people around you, you could be living out God’s design of the human mind capable to assess. Pray that your heart will be in alignment with God’s heart and He will give you the discernment, teaching you to interpret this opinion through God’s eyes. I hope this helps.
Hey Everyone! At the risk of over simplifying things, I’d like to break things down a little. “Judging” has become such a loaded term that it might be helpful to look at it in different terms.
Discerning between right and wrong, even when it comes to the actions of others, is biblical. Speaking into this discernment, even when it comes to the actions of others, is biblical. If this is what is meant by judging, then yes judging is biblical.
However, in the same way the Bible speaks to morality so that we can have a standard in which to be discerning, the Bible provides guidelines in which that discernment is to be exercised.
Keep trudging through this topic, it’s worth it!
Yes! Thank you. This has to be the most abused and misquoted verse in the bible. I have heard countless people say don’t judge. They take one line of Jesus statement but don’t finish it or read it in context. He says remove the plank so you can make righteous judgments. Saying don’t judge is a judgement in it self. Clearly Jesus couldn’t be saying any of that. He was saying don’t judge hypocritically or by mere appearance . The Pharisees judged others but not themselves. If we couldn’t judge, you actually couldn’t even tell a murderer what he did was wrong because that would be a judgement
This thread is covering such an important topic that any Christian needs to understand and have discernment with. (Even in this thread I see healthy judgment taking place in regards to discussing what the meaning and balance is😄)
I really appreciate this paragraph. It really helps in looking at what is at risk when we bridge off from the only thing that can be dependable and true through the test of time, judgement, and even scrutiny—God’s Word. And it is sure. This is an inspiration to even me of staying so in tune with His Word. There is no validity of any conclusion of anything otherwise.