There is a lot of talk about being tolerant in today’s society. What does that mean? When Jesus said, “Judge not” what odes that mean? And what is the context of it? As Christians, we are to love all people. Does that mean to accept what they are doing even if we know biblically it is wrong? How do we talk to that person without being judgemental? What does it mean when someone says, “love the sinner, hate the sin?” Why is this offensive to some people? Where do we draw the line between being self-righteous, judgemental, or “fruit inspectors” and being tolerant and compromising?
I had a person talk to me about churches and she was looking for a good church that isn’t “holier than thou” as she put it. We both agreed that God is a loving God and we are saved by grace. She talked about tolerance. I mentioned that some churches are too tolerant (and compromising) and do not want to teach about sin. We parted ways when she asked me my stance on gay marriage. She said churches should be tolerant and welcome all people. I agreed we are to welcome all people, including homosexuals. But, we are also to teach the truth and Romans 1 is very clear on this subject. She told me that I almost convinced her to come to my church until we talked about gay marriage.
So, how do we handle these touchy issues? Most people will quote Matthew 7:1 to basically tell Christians to mind their own business. I think many times they are right. We are also to share God’s word. I believe we must show God’s truth (we must teach and learn all of scripture, not just the part we are comfortable with), but our attitude must be in a loving manner but without compromising our faith and belief.Let us start with Matthew 7. Is Jesus telling us to just mind our own business? He is telling us to not be self righteous and to not be a hypocrite. In order to guide someone who is going astray, we need to make sure we have things in order. We will never have everything worked out and not have any flaws, but we should not be living in sin while telling someone else what they are doing is wrong.
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
I think this is more about how you look at a person who is struggling with sin. The word for “judge” is more about condemning the person for his sin than guiding him (or her). Notice He does not say to let your brother remove the speck by himself. He says to take care of what is in your eye so that you can help your brother with what is in his. Perhaps we can help each other.
2 Timothy 2:24-26
And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
1 Thessalonians 5:14-15
Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.
Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.
We need to love our brothers and sister enough to recognize when they are struggling. And, if we are the ones struggling we need to confide in someone we trust and not be afraid to ask for help.
He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself,
And he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself.
Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you;
Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.
So, how do we deal with someone outside the church who is living in sin, who does not believe? That is a tough question. We are to go out into the world and share the gospel. People need to know the truth that all have sinned and need a savior to redeem them from their sins. They need to know that only through faith in Jesus Christ are we saved from our sins. We often try to change their behavior instead of sharing Christ and letting the Holy Spirit do the work. Sometimes we need to walk away and leave the convincing to God. We need to pray; pray for wisdom and for the Holy Spirit to lead us. Pray for their hearts to be prepared for the gospel. Reading some of these scriptures is very convicting for both how we approach fellow believers and those who do not believe.
1 Corinthians 5:12-13
For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.”
1 Corinthians 2:14-16
But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:18
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
2 Timothy 4:1-5
I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
We must show love and kindness, but not accept wrongdoing. As we share our faith, as we deal with those who believe differently than we do and don’t see anything wrong with their sinful lifestyle, we must give it to God and remember where we once came from. Show them that we were sinners and want them to have this great gift that was given to us. We all were living in sin and God had patience with us until we let go of the things of the world and turned to Jesus Christ.
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
1 Peter 4:17-18
For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?