How often will you hear this today: "don't judge!"?
Okay, maybe you haven't heard it today but I can almost guarantee you that you've heard it in the past week.
I find it interesting to hear in society, the same words that Jesus spoke over two-thousand years ago, but used incorrectly. You'd like to think and hope that someone would be intellectually honest enough to investigate the origin of a phrase that they so readily and liberally misuse. When they says "don't judge", what they could be saying is, let me have my sin and eat it too! Well, there is no doubt that people are hungry. But sin is not going to fill that need. And when you think about it, He didn't say "don't judge" and just leave it at that. When Jesus says "judge not, that ye be not judged" (Matthew 7:1), He then goes on to say "for with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged". Did He just overrule His previous statement? What do you think? By the way, the connotation for judge as it's translated into English is simply to choose. To decide. Not condemn.
To recuse oneself means to bow out from any interaction that might possibly be offensive or accusatory. As Christians, it means to be absolutely non-confrontational when dealing with someone--Christian or non--who is living in and commiting sin. Whoever wrote the book of Hebrews (10:38) said "if any man (or woman) draw back my soul shall have no pleasure in [them]. What they're saying here is directed at the person (Christian) who has chosen not to act like or live like a Christian anymore. But the writer expresses their vote of confidence by saying "but we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul." Unto perdition you say? Perdition basically means ruin or destruction, ultimately leading to death. Should I say something if I see someone doing something that could lead to what the writer of Hebrews is referring to as perdition? Should I judge them? Maybe not in the way that is commonly thought. I think that whenever you hear the word "judge" (as a verb), you automatically think of condemnation. And God is never about condemnation. It's the devil who is the "accuser of our brethren" (Revelation 12:10).
Moving forward, in 1 John (5:16), it says that "if any[one] see their brother (or sister) sin a sin which is not unto death, [they] shall ask, and they give him life for them that sin not unto death." Or, maybe perdition as was mentioned earlier? See, sin has consequences. But what John is saying here is that we can forgive said sin and allay (Some? All?) the inherent consequences for our brother or sister in Jesus.
"All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death." (1 John 5:17)
Contrast this whole judging/not judging issue with this verse from James (5:20): "they which convert the sinner from the error of their way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins." How can this be done if we're not supposed to judge? To decide?
Try this on: What about judging with mercy and forgiveness? These two things are absolutely essential to life because of this fact: everyone sins. Everyone deserves to be "judged" and judged, whatever connotation and spin you put on the word. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) So next time you get the urge to shed some light on the mistakes of others (checking your own hypocritical heart first), be sure to lead with love, mercy and forgiveness. The tough stuff will melt in the face of those three things. And like a river breaking through the ice floes of Winter, the Holy Spirit will flow through our lives to touch others.
"By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil. When a man's ways please the Lord, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him." (Proverbs 16:6-7)