Of course Christians should judge others, but there is a big difference in assessing another’s character or behavior and being judgmental about them. The scripture that people often cite is from Matthew chapter 7:

Judge not, that ye be not judged.

Matthew 7:1 (KJV)

This verse is used by Christians and non-Christians alike to shut off conversation particulary when one who is sinning is confronted by another who points out their sin. Think about a husband who abuses his wife being “found out” and told he must stop the abuse. His response might be “don’t judge me, you’re not exactly perfect.”

Or think about a woman discussing her abortion with a coworker and being told that what she had done was akin to murder. The response is apt to be. “Don’t judge me. You don’t know what’s going on in my life.”

Everyday we encounter people who we believe are engaging in activities that run counter to what God expects of us. We have friends and family members who not only do bad things, but actively thumb their noses at God. Some go as far as rejecting the way God made them and seek to change their gender or participate in sexual practices that are an abomination to God. Turning a blind eye to deviant behavior is just as wrong as confronting it in a judgmental fashion.

Jesus didn’t stop in verse one, he was very specific in his explanation of his admonition to “judge not.”

“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. 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? 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 7:1-5 (NIV)

Jesus wanted to be sure that before you voice your criticism of others, you should be very sure that you are not sinning in the same way. He wants to restore relationships with both parties and that begins with your repentance of sin before going to someone else and pointing out their sinful ways.

Jesus even laid out a very specific procedure for judging others within the church.

“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.

“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Matthew 18:15-20

What to do with those outside the church? The focus should be on helping others find Jesus, not just on trying to change their behavior. The best possible way to get a non-believer to give up lifestyles or activities that God hates is to allow the Holy Spirit to change that individual from within. That will only happen once the non-believer recognizes that he or she is a sinner, repents and accepts what Jesus did on the cross to pay for his or her sins.

When you judge others and see something that is out of step with God’s will, get yourself straight and then let God guide you as you share the Gospel message with others.