As a Christian, there are several things that play a major role in my walk with God. If I want to know Him better, I must read the Bible. If I want to share my heart with Him, I have to pray. And if I want to be upheld and kept on the right path, I need to surround myself with Godly friends. All of those things are incredibly important, but today I'd like to focus on the latter, and how judgement and discernment play into that.
Seek Godly FriendshipsSurrounding ourselves with other Christians is huge for our walk with Christ. We need encouragement. We grow through fellowship with other believers. And we need to be held accountable. However, finding godly friends can be very difficult. We often don't know where to look. But if we look hard and ask God to lead the way, Christian community is out there, and we need it desperately.
When we decide to look for godly friends, the goal should be to find friends who challenge us, and will be blunt with us if they see sin in our lives. Unfortunately, we tend to get angry when people call us out on our sins. We feel criticized and put down. And somehow, instead of being grateful for friends that steer us back to the right path, we end up going back to that original phrase: "only God can judge me". It's not comfortable to be told we are doing something wrong, and we don't like it. In fact, most of the time, we avoid it at all cost.
We Need to Be Called OutBut Scripture is clear that the fruit of our lives is proof that we belong to God, Apart from God, we can do nothing, and godly fruit produced in our lives is a witness that we know Him (John 15:4-5). Being discerning is necessary. God calls us to live a certain way. That's not because we have to earn salvation, but because He wants us to live the life He died for us to have. He wants us to embrace holiness and reject sin.
Likewise, Christians are called to lift each other up and encourage each other towards godliness. But how can we do that if we aren't willing to be corrected? If I am living a sinful life and my husband just says to himself "I shouldn't judge her", then I am not being held accountable for my actions. I am not being challenged to repent and change. As Christians, we should always want our brothers and sisters to be on the right path. We should (appropriately and lovingly) call them out and try to steer them back on the path of righteousness. But if all we are is a community that is focused on "loving" (a.k.a. avoiding confrontation), in order to stay away from "judging", we will fail miserably at our call.
You see, the bible never says not to deal with sin; it merely says to deal with it in an appropriate manner.
There is a Difference
Matthew 18:15-17 lays this out pretty clearly:
So, if you have a drug problem and you are telling your friend that they need to stop doing drugs because it's a sin, you are judging and being very hypocritical. At that point, you need to get the plank out of your eye before trying to pull out a splinter from your friend's eye (Matt. 7:5). I am not condoning being judgmental or hypocritical towards anyone. But I am petitioning that we all use discernment and remember that calling out sins, and being aware of the fruit in our neighbor's life is not the same thing as judging.
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector."This passage is rarely quoted anymore. Instead, we commonly hear "Judge not, lest ye be judged" (Matthew 7:1). But the people quoting this scripture often fail to recognize that this scripture is speaking to someone who struggles with a sin, refuses to deal with it, yet judges, thinks unlovingly towards, and calls out someone else for the same sin. They also fail to mention that in verse 6 of the same passage, Jesus says that we should deal with our sins so that we are better able to help our fellow Christians with their sins.
Likewise, if we are trying to find godly friends, we must discern whether or not the people we meet who are claiming to be Christians are actually solid in their faith. We may not be able to tell the first time we meet them, but through prayer, the leading of the Holy Spirit, and knowledge of how the bible says to live, we can usually tell if a person is living for God.
Judgmental attitudes are against God. Judging a person just because they are different from you is wrong. Judging someone based on gossip, or a one-time meeting is usually inaccurate and unfair. Do not judge. Do not assume things about a person that you barley know. But by all means, if someone is swinging naked on a wrecking ball for millions of people to watch, the bible says that we can pretty well discern by the way they are living that Jesus is not the Lord of their life. Maybe they believe in Him, but they have certainly not submitted to His Lordship in obedience.
Technically, Miley Cyrus is right- only God can ultimately judge her. And he will judge her one day. He will judge all of us one day. The question is, will your judgement be covered in Christ's blood, and blessed with the fruit of the Spirit, or will it be tainted with sin that poisoned your life- your fruitless life?