What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13)
One of the reasons why those outside of the church dislike those inside of the church is because of judgmental attitudes from one towards the other. When a person outside of the church isn’t living the way the bible describes, those inside the church are quick to point fingers at their behavior and to cast judgment on how they live. What’s interesting, though, is that Paul teaches we shouldn’t reserve judgment for those who are not Christians – those outside of the church. Instead, we should be judging other Christians.
There was a particular disturbing case in the Corinthian church where a man was sleeping with his stepmother. Not only was this repulsive, but the church didn’t seem to care. Paul’s point was that they were living in sin and were proud of their behavior rather than being broken about it. It’s in those moments that those who claim to be followers of Christ need to stand up and speak truth to one another in love.
Paul taught that the person should be removed from the fellowship of believers not because of a desire to punish but in hopes of restoration. By removing a person from the fellowship that person might be so distraught as to repent and turn his or her life around. For this to happen, though, the fellowship of believers must be so good that to be removed would be devastating. That begs two questions: how is your fellowship? Are you truly investing in one another’s lives in such a way that to be cast out for a period of time would lead one to repentance? Secondly, how bold are you willing to be? Will you speak the truth in love when it needs to be spoken?
The responsibility of those inside the church is not to judge outsiders – that’s God’s job. Within the church, though, we need to be both loving in our fellowship and bold in our willingness to address sin with a goal of restoration. For more on this topic, check out the sermon, Insiders and Outsiders.
Father, I know I have been guilty in the past of judging those who are outside the church. In doing so, I was simply placing myself on Your throne as the ultimate judge. Please forgive me for the ways I pushed others from You because of such actions. Help me, instead, to focus on living a life of purity and encouraging those inside the church to do so, as well.