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Correcting the Sinner is not”Being Judgmental.”It is an Essential Work of Charity.

June 21, 2010

In today’s Gospel there is a Scripture passage that is “too well known.” I say this because the world has picked it up almost as a club to swing at Christians. The text is used almost as if it were the whole Bible and it is used to shut down any discussion of what is right or wrong,  what is virtuous or what is sinful. Even many Christians mis-interpret the passage as a mandate to be silent in the face of sin and evil. It is a passage “too well known”  because it is remembered but everything else in the Scriptures that balances or clarifies it is forgotten. Here is the passage:

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matt 7:1-5)

Any time the Church or an individual Christian points to a certain behavior as wrong or sinful, inevitably wagging fingers are raised and an indignant tone ensues which says something to the effect, “Ah, ah, ah…..you’re being judgmental! The Bible says, judge not. Who are you to judge your neighbor!?” etc. This is clearly an attempt to shut down discussion quickly and to shame the Christian, or the Church into silence. To a large degree this tactic has worked and modern culture has succeeded in shaming many Christians from this essential work of correcting the sinner. Too many are terrified and simply shamed when they are said to be “judging” someone because they call attention to sin or wrongdoing. In a culture where tolerance is one of the only virtues left, to “judge” is a capital offense. “How dare we do such a thing!”  The world protests, “Who are you to judge someone else?!”

But pay careful attention to what this Gospel text is actually saying. The judgment in question is not as to the question of right and wrong. Rather, the judgment in question regards punishment or condemnation. The next sentence makes this clear when it speaks of the measure we use. The measure in question is the level of condemnation, harshness or punishment that is used. A parallel passage in Luke makes this clear: Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven…. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you (Luke 6:36-38). Hence the word “judge” here is understood to mean an unnecessarily harsh and punitive condemnation. To paraphrase the opening verses here would be to say, “Be careful not to be condemning for If you lower the boom on others, you will have the boom lowered on you. If you throw the book at others, it will also be thrown at you.”

Further, the parable that follows in the passage above about the plank in one’s eye does NOT say not to correct sinners. It says in effect, get right with God yourself and understand your own sin so that you will see clearly enough to properly correct your brother. Hence, far from forbidding the correction of the sinner the passage actually emphasizes the importance of correction by underscoring the importance of doing it well and with humility and integrity.

In these times one of the most forgotten virtues and obligations we have is the duty to correct the sinner. It is listed among the Spiritual Works of Mercy. St. Thomas Aquinas lists it in the Summa as a work of Charity:  [F]raternal correction properly so called, is directed to the amendment of the sinner. Now to do away with anyone’s evil is the same as to procure his good: and to procure a person’s good is an act of charity, whereby we wish and do our friend well. (II, IIae, 33.1)

Now to be sure, there are some judgments that are forbidden us. For example we cannot assess that we are better or worse than someone else before God. Neither can we always understand the ultimate culpability or inner intentions of another person as though we were God. Scripture says regarding judgments such as these: Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the LORD looks into the heart (1 Sam 16:7). Further we are instructed that we cannot make the judgment of condemnation. That is to say, we do not have the power or knowledge to condemn someone to Hell. God alone is judge in this sense. The same scriptures also caution us against being unnecessarily harsh or punitive. As we already read from Luke, Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven…. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you (Luke 6:36-38).  So in this text “to judge” means to condemn or to be unmerciful, to be unreasonably harsh.

Scripture commends and commands Fraternal Correction: I said above that the Gospel from today’s Mass is, in a sense “too well known.” That is, it has been embraced to the exclusion of everything else, as if it is ALL the Bible has to say about correcting the sinner. But the fact is that over and over again Scripture tells us to correct the sinner. Far from forbidding fraternal correction, the Scriptures command and commend it.  I would like to share some of those texts here and add a little commentary of my own in Red.

1. Jesus said, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Matt 18:15-18) Jesus instructs us to speak to a sinning brother or sister and summon them to repentance. If private rebuke does not work and, assuming the matter is serious, others who are trustworthy should be summoned to the task. Finally the Church should be informed. If they will not listen even to the Church then they should be excommunicated (treated as a tax collector or Gentile). Hence in serious matters excommunication should be considered as a kind of medicine that will inform the sinner of how serious the matter is. Sadly this “medicine” is seldom used today even though Jesus clearly prescribes it (at least in more serious matters).

2. It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans; for a man is living with his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body I am present in spirit, and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened….I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral men; 10not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But rather I wrote to you not to associate with any one who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Drive out the wicked person from among you. (1 Cor 5:1-13)  So the Holy Spirit speaking through Paul commands that we “judge”  the evil doer. Now again in this case the matter is very serious (incest). Notice how the text says he should be excommunicated (handed over to Satan). Here too the purpose is medicinal. It is to be hoped that Satan will beat him up enough that he will come to his senses and repent before the day of judgment. It is also medicinal in the sense that the community is protected from bad example, scandal and the presence of evil. The text also requires us to be able to size people up. There ARE immoral and unrepentant people with whom it is harmful for us to associate. We are instructed to discern this and not keep friendly company with people who can mislead us or tempt us to sin. This requires a judgment on our part. Some judgements ARE required of us.

3. Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any sin, you who are spiritual should recall him in a spirit of gentleness. Look to yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. (Gal 6:1-2) Notice we are called to note when a person has been overtaken in sin and to correct him. Note too that the text cautions us to do so in a spirit of gentleness. Otherwise we may sin in the very process of correcting the sinner. Perhaps we are prideful or unnecessarily harsh in our words of correction. This is no way to correct. Gentle and humble but clear, seems to be the instruction here. It also seems that patience is called for since we must bear the burden’s of one another’s sin. We bear this in two ways. First we accept the fact that others have imperfections and faults that trouble us. Secondly we bear the obligation of helping others know their sin and of helping them to repent.

4. My brethren, if any one among you wanders from the truth and some one brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins (James 5:19) The text is ambiguous as to whose soul is actually saved but that is good since it seems both the corrected and the corrector are beneficiaries of fraternal correction well executed.

5. You shall not hate your brother in your heart: You shall in any case rebuke your neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him. (Lev 19:17) The text instructs us that to refuse to correct a sinning neighbor is a form of hatred. Instead we are instructed to love our neighbors by not wanting sin to overtake them.

6. If any one refuses to obey what we say in this letter, note that man, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not look on him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother (2 Thess 3:14)  Notice again the medicine of rebuke even to the point of refusing fellowship in more serious matters is commanded. But note too that even a sinner does not lose his dignity, he is still to be regarded as a brother, not an enemy. A similar text from 2 Thess 3:6 says  We instruct you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to shun any brother who walks in a disorderly way and not according to the tradition they received from us.

7. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom (Col 3:16)  To admonish means to warn. Hence, if the word of Christ is rich within us we will warn when that becomes necessary. A similar text from 2 Tim 3:16 says:  All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. Reproof and correction is thus part of what is necessary to equip us for every good work.

8. And we exhort you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all  (1 Thess 5:14). Here fraternal correction is described as admonishing, encouraging and helping. We are also exhorted to patience is these works.

Well there are more but by now you get the point. Fraternal correction, correcting the sinner it prescribed and commanded by scripture. We must resist the shame that the world tries to inflict on us by saying, simplistically, that we are “judging” people. Not all judgment is forbidden, some judgment is commanded. Correction of the sinner is both charitable and virtuous. True enough it is possible to correct poorly or even sinfully.

We have failed to correct – But if we are to have any shame about fraternal correction it should be that we have so severely failed to correct. Because of our failure in this regard the world is a much more sinful, coarse and undisciplined place. Too many people today are out of control, undisciplined, and incorrigible. Too many are locked in sin and have never been properly corrected. The world is less pleasant and charitable, less teachable. It is also more sinful and in greater bondage. To fail to correct is to fail in charity and mercy, it is to fail to be virtuous and to fail in calling others to virtue. We are all impoverished by our failure to correct the sinner. Proverbs 10:10, 17 says He who winks at a fault causes trouble; but he who frankly reproves promotes peace….A path to life is his who heeds admonition; but he who disregards reproof goes go astray.

The following video is a bit home-spun but it basically captures the problem that Christians face and explains pretty well some of the distinctions I am making here: .

Comments (38)

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  1. Bain Wellington says:

    Yes, it is the distinction between error and guilt (before God).

  2. gardener says:

    I prefer using Ezekiel 33:7-9.

  3. tawnya says:

    Recently there was a discussion on a Catholic blog regarding modesty in clothing worn by women at church. Who has the obligation to address a teen or young adult regarding her dress when the neckline is plunging and can cause temptation during Mass itself?

    • The first obligation it would seem falls to the mothers, if the woman in question is still a teen or young adult. The second obligation falls to older women to correct younger women in this regard. The Priest, esp. the pastor has the obligation to set forth principles and remind all of proper clothing for church that is both reverent and modest. Some suggest that priest should speak privately to immodestly dressed women. I think this is imprudent and unwise. It should not be left for the pastor to do this sort of thing. First he is a man speaking to a woman about her body and about sexual temptation. Secondly he is a priest and the recent scandals cannot be wholly set aside as a factor that demands stricter boundaries between priest and laity in regards this matter of sexuality. At times I have dispatched an older and trustworthy woman to speak with a woman who is dressed immodestly. When I work with the Teenagers and teach on matters of sexuality and modestly I never do this alone. I always have an adult woman and often a man present in the room with me. Hence, I think priest can speak to this matter in general and group settings but it must fall to mothers and older women to speak personally to younger women. We have discussed these sorts of matters here:
      http://blog.adw.org/2010/05/adore-the-lord-in-holy-attire-on-proper-dress-for-mass/
      http://blog.adw.org/2010/02/modesty-is-reverence-for-mystery/
      http://blog.adw.org/2010/04/modesty-and-men/
      http://blog.adw.org/2010/01/from-gawky-innocence-to-dirty-dirty-a-school-finally-cracks-down/

      and in the comments section here:
      http://blog.adw.org/2010/06/praying-for-a-broken-and-humble-heart-a-meditation-on-love-of-the-sinful-woman-luke-7/

      • A says:

        I just have one question….Where is the “FATHER” in all of this?
        Yes I understand the mother, grandmother, the elder women should edify the young women.
        But dad’s you have a responsibility too. When I was a child I reached a certain age where it was no long proper for me to run around the house as a child does and my father said no more. That was the day I no longer did, end of story.

    • Diana says:

      Good question. The teen’s parents are obliged to guide her in the way to dress in a way that is pleasing to the Lord. Our society as a whole is too concerned with impressing their peers and not enough on pleasing God in our dress, speech, conduct etc. My question is, who has the obligation to confront an adult woman who chooses to wear plunging necklines or short skirts to Mass? Where has the reverence for God gone to? It would be very difficult for priests to deal with this but it needs to happen.

  4. Bob M says:

    I think that many in the laity have been reluctant since it never seems to be practiced or preached by the clergy.

  5. Katherine G ERT says:

    Wow, I haven’t commented in a while. Been crazy busy with work (and catching up on sleep). I will say that I don’t know if this is just my age, or a part of my personality, but I just tell it like it is. There was a doctor that I worked with that just recently passed away from complications of a heart attack (he was very young, too) that told it like it was and had the facts to back it up. I think that there is nothing wrong with telling it like it is so long as you can support your evidence and use tact in most situations. One of the things I hate the most, and is probably my biggest pet peeve, is when someone talks about me and doesn’t have all their facts straight. If I did it to them, then yes, I deserve whatever I have coming to me. But if I didn’t do anything to them (and most of the time this is the case, since I don’t like gossip), it drives me up a wall. And I don’t hesitate in telling them exactly what I think of them and exactly how cowardly they are for not coming to me first.

    On young adult women and modesty, and how to talk to them about this stuff, I agree that the pastor must use discretion because of his position in the Church. However, as Monsignor Pope mentioned, I also think that the pastor should perhaps be present for a general talk to teens and young adult women on that issue, mainly if not anything to show support for the solution to the issue. In the ER, we have to talk to people all the time about very sensitive issues. Most of the time we are tactful, other times we must be very blunt, in order for the patient to understand that they could die if they continue this behavior, that behavior, etc. In the ER, it is not our job to do law enforcement per se, but to take care of the medical and psychiatric issues that patients come in with. And part of taking care of them means trying to improve their ways of living, as priests do for their people.

  6. Vijaya says:

    I didn’t know about this meaning of “judge” until now. I always thought how contradictory the Bible could be, where in one passage it tells to not judge and in another says to gently rebuke your sinning brother. But this involves judging! We judge all the time: with whom we should spend time with, so-and-so lied and shouldn’t be trusted, etc. Thank you for collecting the many verses that all deal with correcting our sins and explaining them.

  7. Tom B says:

    Well, you’ve won no convert here:
    -Your parcing of the meaning of judgement that in effect says I’m not judging if I call my nieghbor a ne’er-do-well so long as I don’t decree his punishment is not supported by the text. Deciding (frankly even in the silence of your heart) that joe is a so-n-so is judging.

    -To the eye mote bit: even REGARDING the speck in your brother’s eye is forbidden, hence I said above judgement is forbidden even if not uttered aloud. You said: “get right with God yourself and understand your own sin so that you will see clearly enough to properly correct your brother.” But if the metaphor of speck for sin is followed ther is no reason to say “understanding” your own sins is sufficient. To condemn others you would need to be without sin. As He says elsewhere ” let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

    -“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault …” speaks of someone who has sinned against you personally. If your roommate is stealing your beeer ot of the refrigerator, you may certainly say: “hey stop stealing my beer”

    – All the other quotes refer to mutual spiritual support among members of the CHurch as such, they do not permit Christians to criticise the behavior of unbelievers.

    – Finally in the matter of Abortion for example, I think that the defense of others is atleast as commendable as defending your beer, but this does not open up a general right to Christians to condemn the lifestyles of their nieghbors

    • Gee, I’m feeling a little judged by you Tom…..

      • Mike says:

        Tom,
        I think part of the point is to make a distinction between “condemning” and correcting. Thinking of, and consequently treating someone as a ne’er do well is not the same as seeing someone doing something that you know is wrong, and pointing out the problem to them. For instance, copyright violation is rampant in our society. It is stealing, but because there is no physical object stolen, and because the likelihood of getting caught and punished is usually so small, many people do it all the time, and laugh it off if anyone points it out to them. Nevertheless, it is stealing when you download for free music or video from a site that is not authorized to distribute it. I know it is wrong, and I know that there are people who in fact are hurt by it. Should I not point that out to people when I see them do it? Does pointing it out to them necessarily mean that I have made a judgement about what kind of person they are?

    • Tom B says:

      Sorry, I thought my comment was more of the mutual spiritual support among Christians kinda’ thing: a discussion of the Lord’s word. That being said, I already know that my eyes are quite speckled.

    • CastingCrown says:

      You bring up some good points, but here are a couple of thoughts:

      1. “Finally in the matter of Abortion for example, I think that the defense of others is at least as commendable as defending your beer, but this does not open up a general right to Christians to condemn the lifestyles of their neighbors”

      One can hardly compare the theft of an inanimate object (beer) to the killing of a human life (baby), but switch the sin to murdering babies outside the womb – most people would have no problem saying that to do this is to sin.

      Someone’s “lifestyle” is pretty much just the sum total of the choices they make – some of these choices are objectively sinful and others are objectively virtuous. The maxim I made up above applies here – judge the sin and not the sinner.

      2. “All the other quotes refer to mutual spiritual support among members of the Church as such, they do not permit Christians to criticise the behavior of unbelievers.”

      Firstly, a proclamation of the Gospel requires a proclamation of the sinfulness of mankind. You can’t receive the Good News until you know you’re in need of Grace. But anyway, I think you’re assuming here that “to criticize” is to throw stones at the person, rather than loving them…

      If I hear someone constantly talking about how trashed they get each the weekend how could I not, for the love of God and that person, not speak to them about it? If a girl is considering turning her womb into a tomb, how could I not attempt to save the life of the child and protect the mother from the guilt of destroying her child?

      Love demands that I seek the other person’s good. If they are seeking bad rather than good, how could I remain silent? What friend would? What parent wouldn’t correct their child out of love for them?

      “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.” – Proverbs 3:11-14

    • Luke says:

      Interestingly, “casting the first stone” is all about condemning judgment. Stones were cast at people to kill them. So, yes, if you are a sinner you can’t condemn and judge someone to hell with a death sentence – God alone judges in this way. But this article talks about that correctly. We can’t judge people to hell, which is what Jesus is talking about with regard to casting stones. But pointing out sin so that people are able to repent and turn from there ways is vastly different. So, no, you don’t need to be without sin to correct a brother that he might be saved, you simply need to have dealt with your own sin through repentance and forgiveness (plank removed!) first before you can see clearly enough to help your friend with their speck. Just like the article says, two different types of judging.

  8. J. David Hill, Jr. says:

    This is the best explanation of “Judge not lest ye be judged” that I have ever read.
    Thank you Msgr. Pope.

  9. J. David Hill, Jr. says:

    When our Lord says: ”Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” I have thought that He was pointing out the tendency in human nature to be extremely condemning of the faults of others that we are, sometimes unconsciously, most guilty of ourselves. Am I misunderstanding this passage?

  10. Samantha Luty says:

    If it was just young teens and young adults wearing imapproiate clothing to mass then maybe the older women could talk to the girls about their clothing. However, when older adult women wear the same type of clothing as well, then who does the talking about the inapproiate clothing? I have seen women of all ages attend mass in all types of reveling attire. From shorts and tank tops to flip flops to all types of clothing. And the Euchristist Ministers are guilty of wearing the same thing. I at times feels so overdressed because I wear a dress to mass. I have even been asked why I am so dressed up. (Which I’m not really). I don’t consider wearing a simple dress to mass dressing up. However, I can still hear my mother’s words to me as if I was still highschool back in the 80’s telling me that her daughter will always dress as if she is meeting God and she had better be dressed approiately. So now I when I attend mass, I dress approiately. Not for myself, not for others, or to be seen as better than the crowd. But for God. Because He is who I am there for. As Catholics, we believe just that. We believe that Jesus is present in the Tabernacle, so why not dress our best for Him. it’s the least we can do for all that He did for us. I’m not saying formal wear or coats and ties. I’m just saying loose the beach wear, the casual wear and dress more modesty for our Lord.

  11. Tawnya says:

    When I was in my twenties, it was stylish to wear mini skirts and halter tops. The older genration in my family was disaproving of these styles and often voiced their opinion. It had no effect upon the younger generation and actually caused resentment. These styles of the seventies compared to today are modest. I would like someone to give me concrete advice on how to approach a young woman or any woman about her style of dress that is extreme, especially at church. I do not have the words or the manner in which to approach someone I do not know. This would be especially difficult if the girl/woman in question is with her family who obviously must not object. To give these women the benefit of the doubt because they are probably unaware of how they are making the older generation feel uncomfortable and that they are causing scandal and temptation. A generic sermon on modesty will probably not suffice.

    It would be helpful to me if the pastor would place in the bulletin a code of dress: no plunging necklines, no short shorts, no tight fitting clothes, etc. I think the pastor could also say at the beginning of the summer season that if this code is violated. the person invovled will be addressed by a church member or the priest if necessary. If the clergy would lead in this, I think it would be easier for the laity to respond.

    • Scholastica says:

      You really need to decide just one thing. Do you prefer a church half empty, full of appropriately dressed people, or do you prefer a church which is full, with some people wearing what you do not personally think is appropriate? Some have said they dress to meet the Lord, and this is true; this is how I dress as well.

      However, the Lord is not bothered by nudity. If he were, he would have covered us with fur, like animals. When we stand before the Lord in eternity, we will all be naked, as we were when we were born. All that will cover us will be the Lord’s righteousness, which will envelop us like a garment.

      Therefore, I would say, let young people be young, and if what they are wearing offends you, look away. Take it as a lesson in controlling your eyes, and remember that if we chase someone from church today, they may never return. If they turn up in beach wear, then thank God for good weather, smile and accept them. After all, they could be on that beach instead, couldn’t they? Is that really what we would prefer?

      Older women; if you want to set an example, then do so in what you wear and how you behave. On the other hand, if you want to encourage young people to keep away from church, by all means take them to one side and tell them that they need to dress like 50 year olds in order to be admitted.

      Modesty is about the heart, not about the wardrobe.

      • Your position is an extreme one. In effect you seem to decalre in your last line that clothing matters not at all. This is extreme. Clothing does matter and it says alot about what’s going on inside. Clothing is not everything but it does matter. As for emptying churches, you might consider that we have said little about such things for over 40 years now and our Church attendance has gone from 80% to 27% of Catholics. What does this say for your approach? It says to me that for many reasons people don’t take Church attendance seriously anymore. Perhaps one of the reasons they do not take it seriously is because we ahve notasked them to take it seriously. We have not preached as we should that missing Mass is a mortal sin. Further we’ve so stressed the casual come as you are that people think of it as a light matter. Clothing is not the only part of this but it both reflects and fosters a hyper casual attitude that in the end makes people drift away.

        Lastly, dressing well is not a 50 year old thing.

  12. Nancy Larrick says:

    Well said, Monsignor. Whenever I see a woman dressed immodestly, I feel so sorry for her, because it tells me there is something wrong. Often it’s the father/daughter relationship. Dressing well shows maturity and respect.
    I’ve visited the Vatican a couple of times and they have a dress code posted, which basically says one cannot enter unless the shoulders and knees are covered. That doesn’t sound unreasonable.

  13. Peter Wolczuk says:

    There is a difference between judging and stating facts. If I tell a relative, or a friend, that they had regularly spent so much of their income in a bar that there wasn’t enough of money left to pay their basic bills or feed their family this would be stating a fact not judging (providing that I knew beyond a doubt that it was true.) If I advised that they check out Alcoholics Anonymous to see if the stories they heard applied to them; then I would only be making a suggestion. However, if I told said that this relative, or friend, was an alcoholic who needed professional therapy and regular attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings then; that would be a judgement.
    If someone has strayed terribly astray there would likely be many pertinent facts to state.

  14. Christine Niles says:

    Wonderful article. Thank you.

  15. Ben Fields says:

    This article was exactly what I was looking for after someone said “judge not” in a conversation I was part of. This helps me tremendously. Thanks!

  16. JeanDL says:

    A problem I find is most people do not believe what they are doing is a sin. They believe themselves or other people are “born this way.” These same people do not believe in the Bible or even in God. So I just pray they come back to their faith. Is it necessary to tell people I don’t believe what they are doing is right?

  17. PWallace says:

    If a young girl/woman dresses inappropirately, it is a spiritual problem – an internal problem. Women who dress like this are seeking attention and love, however inappropriately. This means, they are not, or have not gotten the nurturing love and attention they needed growing up. In my estimation, most of the time, speaking to them will not be necessary. If they receive the love and acceptance in the church, they will look at others and see the way they are dressed, and because of their need, will imitate others. My advise is to not address this issue at first. If the Priest is doing his job, as called on by the Lord, he will have already addressed this in the pulpit. If the behavior carries on, then someone who has befriended or gotten close to the person in question can gently start out by observing and complimenting other young women;s dress (ie: doesn’t sister hill look so lovely! I really admire how she always shows her love and respect for Christ in her attire!). You can also reach her by enlisting her help by *sister wallace, could I get your help on something? Sister phillips is dressing a little inappropriately for services but I’m not sure how to approach her on this? Do you have any suggestions?* The worse thing any church can do is to immediately condemn or criticize a new church goer or believer. That is the quickest way to lose them. Jesus drew people to him by his love, and then ONLY when they knew his love did he address their behavior. Anyway, that is my 2 cents worth.

  18. Jeff says:

    EXCELLENT ARTICLE! I shared the link on facebook and quoted some of the content. It is too bad that so many of our congregations do not practice what the Bible teaches and what you expounded on. Congregations are so apathetic these days, it is no wonder our nation is in such a mess. Again, wonderful article!

  19. sally fong says:

    Thank you for this – just what I needed!!

  20. JOY of the Lord says:

    whoa! This really blessed me!

  21. Lisa Carter says:

    If someone believes it is OK to have an abortion because it’s a women’s right, even though they themselves have never had one, are they just as guilty for going along with the sin Thou Shalt Not Kill?