In one of the opening sessions of Christian speaker and author, Josh McDowell’s video series “Why Wait?, he addresses the misunderstood instruction to “Not judge others.” He referenced Matthew 7:1-6 where Jesus said “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” He declares that there is a difference between judging the person, and judging the action of a person. He asserted refusing to judge another’s actions would mean to deny a difference between “Mother Teresa and Adolf Hitler, the wheat fields of Kansas and the killing fields of Cambodia.” One of the worst lies we may ever mistake for truth is “don’t judge someone just because they sin differently than you”. It effectively disables our call to make disciples, baptize others, and love others.
In 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, Paul declares that immorality has no place within the church, therefore, we are instructed to judge immoral actions as sinful and cast it out. If it is not addressed and rebuked, not only will sin grow within the Body of Christ, but repentance and forgiveness are not possible either. Paul is clear though that God is the Judge of those outside of the church and it is not our place to hold them to the same standard as those who have claimed Christ.
It is easy to err by not interfering in one person’s life while becoming so critical that we drive another away. It is hard to watch someone we love struggle with sin or even life in general. The problem we often find ourselves in is one where we feel personally attacked when someone else is not living life like we want them to, even complete strangers. We must separate our emotions from the matter and look for the best desired outcome.
Paul’s letter pours out wisdom to us as members of the Church as well as people who are commissioned to bless the lives of others outside of it. We are not to tolerate sin within the Church so that we remain true to our calling and desire to emulate Christ and His Holiness. We are to lovingly but firmly rebuke those who are living immorally who have accepted Christ and we are expected to hold one another accountable as fellow members of the Body of Christ. If we do not call out sin and work toward ridding us of its influence on our own life as well as others in the Church, we allow it to erode the moral ground that Christ has given us to stand firmly upon. Additionally, we also forego the ability to repent and be forgiven because we neither acknowledge, nor have acknowledged by others, that we are in sin and need to repent of it.
With all of that said, we are also called to actively associate with those outside of the church, loving them, befriending them, and encouraging them, just as Christ did with the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, and countless others. We are to model a life changed by Christ and allow His Light to shine brightly. By living the holiness that Christ calls us into, we walk a path that others will want to walk with us and we will lead them to Christ. When we stop criticizing the world, start living as Christ did and instructed us to live as he did, our witness to what a life free of sin will not be hindered by our own sin because it will not be in us.
No one is outside of our mission field when it comes to those outside of the Church, and no one is beyond being rebuked within the Church when sin is present. Our ability to live free of sin does not make us superior to others, but instead is to invite others to a life in Christ that is superior to any other life without Him. Paul advocates that for our best eternity as well as the eternity of nonbelievers, we not confuse the two. When we judge sin int he Church, we become stronger, wiser, and more effective examples of Christlike living. When we refrain from judging the world and instead love it and serve it as Christ served us before we knew Him.
Does my church keep me from sinning or permit me to do it unhindered?
Am I more harsh with sinners in the world or other Christians when they sin?
“Remember Your Chains”
What he was thinking
As he stared out the window
Through the sky
It seemed he was taking
His last look at freedom
From the hopeless, longing look in his eyes
There were chains on his hands
And chains on his feet
And as I passed him by
The thought came to me…Remember your chains
Remember the prison that once held you
Before the love of God broke through
Remember the place you were without grace
When you see where you are now
Remember your chains
And remember your chains are goneThere’s no one more thankful
To sit at the table
Than the one who best remembers from his pain
And no heart loves greater
Than the one that is able
To recall the time when all it knew was shame
The wings of forgiveness
Can take us to heights we’ve never seen
But the wisest ones, they will never lose sight
Of where they were set free[Chorus]And in the light of all that we’ve been forgiven of
We will find our heart’s full look at freedom
To give and receive God’s love[Chorus]
Remember your chains are gone