We can all read our own Bibles these days if we so choose. It has been translated into almost every language there is. The Bible is available for everyone, so anyone who wants to know what God has said, and wants to live by his commands – by his way of life, may know how to go about it. But just because there is one book for everyone to read, it doesn’t necessarily follow that every single person who has read it will respond in precisely the same way. The one book speaks to every reader individually. God speaks to us through his Word, according to who we are, what we need to hear from him at any given time, depending on where we are in our lives and how long we have been studying scripture. In my opinion, it is not only ill advised to pass judgement on fellow believers whom you imagine are not living according to your own understanding of God’s commands, but as James points out, it is actually impossible for us to judge each other using God’s Holy Law. That would be to equate ourselves to God.
James 4:11-17 NLT
Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticise and judge each other, then you are criticising and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbour? Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil. Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.
Difficult as it may be, my goal must be to try to genuinely leave my criticism and judgement of others behind. I cannot effect any real change in a single other person by means of judgement or criticism. I can however, effect huge change in my own behaviour by regularly reading and learning the ways of God as written in the Scriptures. As I have been realising this throughout this year’s TWG project, it seems to me that the most effective way to influence others is through the practical demonstration of God’s way of life.
If you are struggling with an issue over which you feel you have no option but to demonstrate your judgement, think again about what it is really possible to achieve with that. Perhaps it might be better to remember that your job is to obey the law, not judge whether it applies to you, or anyone else for that matter.
Ezekiel 40:28-41:26, James 4:1-17, Psalms 118:19-29, Proverbs 28:3-5