Are you a judgemental Christian? Learn the difference between judgement and correction
1 Corinthians 5:9-13 (MSG)9-13 I wrote you in my earlier letter that you shouldn’t make yourselves at home among the sexually promiscuous. I didn’t mean that you should have nothing at all to do with outsiders of that sort. Or with crooks, whether blue- or white-collar. Or with spiritual phonies, for that matter. You’d have to leave the world entirely to do that! But I am saying that you shouldn’t act as if everything is just fine when a friend who claims to be a Christian is promiscuous or crooked, is flip with God or rude to friends, gets drunk or becomes greedy and predatory. You can’t just go along with this, treating it as acceptable behaviour. I’m not responsible for what the outsiders do, but don’t we have some responsibility for those within our community of believers? God decides on the outsiders, but we need to decide when our brothers and sisters are out of line and, if necessary, clean house.
Judgement versus correction
I have been guilty of this before. Whenever someone tries to correct me for doing something wrong, I used to be quick to clap back and say they were judging me. Also, I will ask them to remove the log in their eyes before attending to mine. But at a point I stopped to think, why do I get so defensive when someone is trying to help me become a better follower of Jesus? Isn’t that what we have been called to do? Help each other become better Christians. Being better should be a natural response to the deep love Jesus has for us.
So what does it really mean to judge someone and do we use the word judge correctly?
To judge is to:
· Form an opinion or conclusion about someone or something
· Quickly form a bias and/or personal opinion about someone or something
So if someone comes to me and tells me, Bibi I have observed that you are rude to people, you have to do better and be better as a Christian. Is that judgment? 👀The answer is no! The person has not made an assumption or a biased opinion about my conduct; they have simply stated an unbiased observation.
So why do we get defensive and throw Mathew 7:3 at the people trying to correct us? An interesting definition of defensiveness by Sharon Ellison is to “react with a war mentality to a non-war issue”. This means that defensiveness is an impulsive and reactive mode of responding to a situation or conversation. Rather than listening with an open heart, we respond with our metaphorical shields up and weapons of clap-backs drawn.
Can we really all drop our defences and welcome corrections from fellow believers? They are only doing what a good Christian that loves another Christian has been called to do. After all, we are already righteous, consecrated, wise and redeemed in Christ. Our actions are meant to align with our identity.
James 5:19-20 (MSG) My dear friends, if you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth, don’t write them off. Go after them. Get them back and you will have rescued precious lives from destruction and prevented an epidemic of wandering away from God.
I want us to have a change of mind about referring to correction as judgment. To correct someone or hold them accountable is very different from judging them. Doing this helps bring them back to God. Some things to note about correcting or holding a fellow believer accountable include:
- Love should be a motivator not being a moral authority. Correcting someone should be done from a place of love and genuine concern for a fellow believer. You should never correct someone saying, “If you don’t stop doing this, you will go to hell”. That is not correction, that is condemnation. Remember Romans 8:1 (Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus… ) If you are going to correct someone, ensure you approach it in a way you will like to be approached. Everything we do, as believers should pass through a love filter. Is my action in line with the love of Jesus? Will my action lead the person into a place of condemnation? Am I assisting Satan in the ministry of accusation? These are questions to ask before you approach a person. Love is very important.
- Self-honesty is very important. Are you honest enough with yourself to show vulnerability? Remember, you are not perfect. A good way to approach a fellow believer in correction is to say something that shows that you have had or is having your fair share of struggles. This way the person does not feel like you are condemning them. Also, if you are involved in ungodly things, the thought of correcting someone is a good place to start self-correction. This was you don’t feel like a fraud and you correct with boldness. It has to come from a place of understanding that I am also imperfect and I have faults that I’m actively working on to improve. This is not coming from a place of me being better than you, it's coming from humility and genuine concern for the persons spiritual live.
- Be prepared to receive pushbacks and defensiveness. Remember, it is nothing personal. Push back with love, understanding and empathy.
- We don’t have to be defensive when we get corrected. The truth is that we are all growing and learning together as the body of Christ. This is why you should strategically surround yourself with people more mature in faith. They are able to guide and watch over your soul with love.
Hebrews 13:17-18 (ESV) Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
- I used to be part of the school of thought that thought it was extreme to tell workers in church that commit offences to seat at the back of the church and be exempt from church activities. I thought it was not the churches business to poke into people’s business. But the older I got in faith, the more I realized that there has to be doctrines and discipline in the church. It is not a place where anyone can act anyhow without an expectation for accountability from the leaders. The truth is we all have to be accountable to someone, a man or woman that is not accountable to anyone is a ticking time bomb. Accountability in the Christian faith is very important.
Using the applicable scripture as a guide for giving and receiving correction is very important. One of the purposes of the scripture is to correct and instruct in righteousness. As a believer, the bible is our guide. We should never approach the scriptures with a toughened heart; it is the word of God. Try not to be defensive, we have to learn how to be humble and yield to the Holy Spirit. If a person corrects you, yield to the Holy Spirit so you can experience conviction and transformation. Don’t toughen your heart; the correction is to make you hot for Jesus. God does not like Luke-warmness.
Matthew 7:1-5 1 Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 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? 5 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.
In summary, correction should be done in love and in a manner that encourages a fellow believer. While on the other end, be open-minded to correction. It is for our good and to improve the quality of our relationship with Jesus. Let's avoid viewing ourselves as the morality/right-doing police. Let's be humble when correcting fellow believers. May God teach us all in Jesus Name, Amen.
“Being open to correction means making ourselves vulnerable, and many people are not willing to do that.” ― Myles Munroe
“Rebuke without love is abuse. But, a love that would never rebuke? I dare to admit that that, too, would be a kind of abuse.” ― Criss Jami