"Christians shouldn't judge people."
"Stop judging me."
"You can't judge me."
These are all phrases that I'm sure you've heard any number of times. I know I have. And the funniest thing is sometimes it isn't even my words that provoke these response. I've had a lot of issues with the word "judging" over the past few months, so I figured I would help myself and you by doing a little research.
To give us some better understanding, let's start with the definition of "judging." There are two definitions, to decide on the value of something or to condemn. These two definitions aren't much help, so let's look at circumstance. When you think of a judge, they make decisions on jail time or no jail time, death or life, they make condemnations. When you think of the common society situation in which the phrase "judging" comes up, it is generally an assessment of what is good behavior and what is poor behavior. This being said, the formal usage of judging is not used. There is no condemnation, there is simply an assessment of good and poor behavior.
This is shaky ground to be on, so let's review the phrases used above. A common usage in our society of the term "judging" is directed at Christians. As stated before, "Christians shouldn't judge people." When people use this statement they are generally looking to quote Matthew 7 which says, "Judge not, that you not be judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged. And with the measure you use, it will be measured against you." The passage continues into what is hypocritical in judging. This passage refers to condemning someone. You could freely exchange judge for condemn. Condemn not, that you not be condemned. This is not a warning about weighing good or bad behavior, it is a reminder that God is the final judge and that only He can condemn people (James 4:12).
While the Bible leads people away from condemning, it does encourage correcting. Ephesians 4:15 tells us to "speak the truth in love." This does mean we should share what is good and right and true, but it also means we must be loving in the manner that we are correcting. Matthew 15:13 addresses that you should correct your brothers and sister in Christ, but also treat them as a brother in your correction of them (1 Thessalonians 3:18). Yet, this is for people in the church, so how do we go about letting non-Christians know that we aren't judging them?
While there are some people who truly judge and condemn people for their actions, this is not the kind of judgment the bible asks us to make. If a Christian comes to you and says you need to stop something or you're going to hell, then please, by all means, ask them to stop condemning you for your actions. They don't know your heart, so they really cannot judge you. That's God's job. However, if a Christian attempts to correct your poor behavior, because they love you and they want what's best for you then listen to them. You don't have to change your ways, you can ignore them if you want, but correcting and condemning are not the same thing.
If you must use biblical terms, the bible commands that you love your neighbor as yourself. If a Christian is correcting you, ask yourself if your behavior is loving your neighbor. Would you appreciate it if someone did that thing to you? If your answer is no, maybe you should reconsider your action. Regardless of if you believe in the bible or not, I assume people like to be treated well. Is your behavior harmful to yourself? If it is, then a loving Christian will point these things out.
I don't deny there are so Christians out there who are not being Christ-like, but do not assume all Christians think better of themselves. Christians have faults too and they pray about them and ask for forgiveness. This begging for forgiveness is an apology, but also a promise to try to do better and not make the same mistakes again. They know God's love and compassion. They want that for you, too.
So, let's drop the word judging. I am not condemning you, I am loving you.