What is the effect of being Judgmental?

Question: “What is the effect of being judgmental? There are four primary divisions of being judgmental. We are told to only be judgmental in one of the divisions and not in the other three.  What are they?”

Bible Answers

Being judgmental is the act of judging.

It is written, “Don’t judge your brother” (Romans 14:3-6). It is also written, “Judge your brother” (1Cor. 5:12, 6:5).

We need to analyze the application and the circumstances to determine when we are not to judge our brother and when we are to judge our brother.  The following provides four primary divisions.

1.  Do not judge another’s heart

We are not to judge another's heart as we have no idea what the condition of another person’s heart may be and have no way to judge another’s heart.  Only God can judge a person’s heart. However, as discussed below, we may be called upon to judge the outward or exposed fruit of the heart.

2.  We are commanded to judge sin

Not only did Jesus and the Apostles judge, they told us to judge. In Luke 17:3 He commanded us to rebuke a trespassing brother: If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.  In 1 Timothy 5:20 he says, Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also may be fearful of sinning.  

In 2 Timothy 4:2, he tells Timothy to reprove, rebuke, exhort. In 1 Thes. 5:14 he says to admonish the unruly. In Romans 15:14, he tells the Roman church that they are able to admonish one another.  In Eph. 5:11 he tells the church, Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.  Paul tells the Corinthians to establish church courts to judge disputes between believers:

Jesus and Paul commanded the church to excommunicate church members who have been rebuked but remain unrepentant for their sins (Mat. 18:17-18).  

But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you (1 Corinthians 5:11-13).

The one who prepared the way of the Lord, John the Baptist, publicly rebuked King Herod for marrying his brother’s wife contrary to the law of God (Matt. 14:3-4).

Peter, Paul and John did a lot of judging the right way. Paul judged and evaluated false teachers, and we are mandated to judge false doctrine.  1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9 gives a number of qualifications for judging church leaders.

We are commanded to judge certain matters, but our judgment must always be tempered with a desire to restore, not punish. The goal is restoration.

We are commanded to come against sin, to judge and to expose sin.

3.  We are not to judge our brother when our heart is not prepared

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust [sin] in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank [greater sins] in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:3-5).

Jesus is saying that those who criticize another for a sin while having unrepentant sin in their own life are hypocrites. We need to be right with God before we can rightly judge another.

4.  We are not to judge our brother when the intent is mischievous  

Jesus in John 7:24 says: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” Jesus is saying “judge without maliciousness and by all means have the facts.”

All judging is not godly reproof.  The Bible condemns certain ways of judging.

1.  The Bible does not say to judge hypocritically, which means to fail to accurately judge your own life by the same terms that you judge others’ lives.  Matthew 7:1-2 tell us, Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

2.  The Bible does not say to judge hastily, that is without sufficient evidence.  We should not judge without having diligently investigated the facts.  Proverbs 29:20 says, Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.  And the Scripture requires at least two or three witnesses to corroborate the facts in order for a public accusation to be made. Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses (1 Timothy 5:19).

3.  The Bible does not say to judge by human standards and traditions rather than by God’s law (Mat. 15:1-9). Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law.  Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment (John 7:19, 24). For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments (1 John 5:3).

4.  The Bible does not say to judge falsely.  The ninth commandment is, Do not bear false witness against your neighbor.

5.  The Bible does not say to judge unlovingly.  But speaking the truth in love, may [we] grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ (Eph. 4:15). We can speak the truth without love, for selfish, boastful, or vindictive purposes and only tear down the body of Christ. This is what gossip often is.  When you aren’t exposing a sin in order to correct it, to help the one who committed the sin to overcome it, but simply to feel superior to the other person.  Usually when we tell a third party about someone else’s sin, it is only gossip and it only hurts the other person rather than fixing the situation.  

6.  The Bible does not say to judge to make ourselves feel better. Many love to compare themselves, their family, their possessions, and their positions to others to make themselves feel superior to others.  Likewise, many will scrutinize their pastor, his sermons, teachers, and elders to confirm our apparent goodness and trying to confirm our favor with God and man.  

Sometimes we may see ourselves as more gifted, better equipped, and more compassionate than almost any one around us.  We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise (2 Corinthians 10:12).

As illustrated above, there are times we are to judge our brother with care, love, and the facts, and times when we become guilty of sinning by incorrectly judging.


In summary, we normally are not to judge except when a sin has occurred and then only after checking out the facts and judging only with a pure heart by God’s standards and not human standards.  Judgment must always be tempered with a desire to restore, not to punish.

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