A 2013 study by the Barna Group reveals that 90 percent of non-Christian young people ages 16 through 29 view Christians as judgmental. Additionally, 50 percent of young people who are Christians view Christians as judgmental. This research alone should be a wake-up call for believers.
In Matthew 7:1–5 (NIV), Jesus says not to judge or you will be judged. And in verse 3, citing how prone we are to judge others, He asks, “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?” Then in John 12:47 (NIV) He says, “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.” If Jesus is not going to judge a nonbeliever, then my first thoughts and actions should be to love nonbelievers, not judge them.
In Genesis 12, God tells Abraham he is blessed so that he can be a blessing. However, Christians are not a blessing to others when we are perceived to be judgmental. And when Jesus was asked in Matthew 22 about the greatest commandments, he ranked “Love your neighbor as yourself” as the second most important. It is very clear to me that I may not judge. Rather, I am commanded to love and bless people.
I also believe Christians should not use the phrase “love the sinner, hate the sin.” When we do, we are rendering a judgment of sin on the individual, not showing love and compassion. Without showing love and compassion, we will never be instrumental in that person knowing God’s love.
Recently, someone argued that Bethany should not bring refugees into our country. I pointed out that God states in Deuteronomy 10 that He loves the alien or refugee and feeds and cares for them, and He commands us to do the same. But I was told I was being naïve. Yes, at times, God’s Word does appear foolish to the wise of this world, but He expects us to follow it.
His gospel compels us to care for the environment, to influence society and culture, and to disciple believers. It is about a loving relationship with God, not a list of do’s and don’ts, a judgmental list of moral injunctions, a formula for wealth, or about a way to Heaven. I tell the Bethany staff that we are on the front lines of interacting with a lost world and that we show our love for God by caring for the poor and vulnerable, not judging them.
Jesus said in Matthew 25:45 (NIV), “Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” When we are judgmental, when we do not do what He expects us to do, we do not honor Christ.
Are Christians judgmental? I pray not.