My friend Justyna was talking to me about how sometimes Christians focus a ton on being right—and it is good to be accurate—but only so that they can point out where others are wrong. For a Christian, there are basically three types of judging:
- Observation, which is impartial and disinterested—it’s information only. (1+1=2)
- Judgment unto condemnation. (You’re going to hell for that, creep!)
- Judgment unto salvation. (Brother, I’ve been down that dark road, but I found my way back. Let me help you! We’ll beat this as a team.)
Number 3 is nominal. It’s observation coupled with loving action. We should remember that the kingdom of God is not a matter of being right and calling others out at every chance, but rather of doing the right thing and being joyous and peaceful in the Spirit. (Rom 14:17)
We often start judging unto condemnation when we start trying to “read between the lines to find the rules.” One such rule might be, “any drinking of alcohol is sin.” Focusing on “regulations such as “don’t touch, don’t taste, don’t handle”, or judging someone for which days they celebrate as holy (Col 2:16-23) sounds righteous, as if we are offering acceptable “service,” but they’re the wrong things to focus on—these things are just “worldly teachings” and are “precepts of men” (same passage).
It is important to make sure that we do not use our free will to try to bind rules that we’ve made up on others, teaching them as doctrine, because in doing so we are participating in vain, empty reverence. (Matt 15:9)
The kingdom of God is not about finding rules buried “between the lines” and then judging brothers for not honoring the rules you’ve “found.” It’s about righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. It’s not about keeping the letter of the law, but the Spirit—Paul believes this point is so important he says it over and over (Rom 2:29; 7:6; 2 Cor 3:6).