Now, the verse above clearly states that we shouldn't judge, however, like we see frequently, to take only one passage of the Bible does not give us a complete picture. We could read this to mean that we should never say anything to a fellow Christian who is doing something wrong unless we are perfect. Doing so would then be judging them after all wouldn't it? To hold this view completely would be to say we can never say or arguably even think anything about another Christians behaviour. Whilst most wouldn't go this far, taking the extreme example, if a Christian commits murder or child abuse for example should we ignore it so as to not be judgemental? I am sure people can see the problem here, but interpreting as described above actually necessitates such a conclusion.
Is this really what the Bible means by judging, does God really want us to never tell anyone what they are doing is wrong? Lets take a look at another few verses, firstly from Matthew 18
Now this is interesting, just a few chapters later we are given the advice that if your brother sins against you, to go and tell him. We are given instructions here for the process of escalation we should follow in these situations, but that is a different topic. My point here is that we as Christians are not told just to keep quiet in these situations, so the question here is, how is this situation different? In what cases are we right to tell people when they have sinned and in what cases are we wrong?
Looking at the case in Matthew 18, we see that the brother has sinned against you. It seems from this verse at least that in the case where the sin is against you, you are allowed to bring it up. The next part of this is important however, 'if he listens to you, you have gained your brother' Now to me, this seems to give some guidance on when we should bring things up, it sounds like it should be brought up in serious cases. The implication here is that the sin against you is strong enough that, for it not to be brought up, means a breakdown in the relationship between you and the other Christian.
Is then this the only guidance we have biblically on the topic? Is it only right for us to speak out against sin when it is directly against us and enough to cause a breakdown between us and the other Christian? Well, lets look further, there are numerous references in the Bible to this topic, a few of them are:
John 7:24 - Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.
Luke 17:1-4 - And he said to his disciples,
Galatians 6:1 - 1Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
Proverbs 7:25 - Better is open rebuke than hidden love.
2 Timothy 4:2 - preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
As we can see, there seems to certainly be biblical instruction that we aren't always to keep silent. We see in the above several things however, what is described here is a world different to simply telling people they're wrong. Judging is telling people they are wrong for your benefit, it is belittling other people. Christians should not do this. What Christians should do is correct others with gentleness. We should tell others when they are doing something sinful when it is for their benefit. We should be correcting them to restore them. The over-riding rule in Christianity is to love. Before you correct the person ensure that you are acting in love.
I said at the start of this that in my situation I may have been wrong. I say this as my concern in the situation was perhaps impure, I was angry with the situation and whilst the situation was wrong, it was perhaps not my place to get involved. My intent would have been to simply angrily tell the people they were wrong, not lovingly and gently attempting to correct. The balance here is not easy and had I gone shouting my mouth off I would have been wrong. My being incorrect on this occasion however, in no way changes the biblical instruction, we should correct our fellow Christians, and doing so should be an act of love.