Read 1 Corinthians 5
Focus on verse 12-13a
We make judgments every day. We observe, assess and then act upon our assessment. The process of making a judgment is essential to effectively navigating our way through life. We make judgments based upon the data that we have received – sometimes the data is accurate, sometimes it is not. When the data we judge we use to formulate our judgment is not accurate, our judgment is likely to reflect this error.
Apparently when it comes to the matter of judging other people, there are times when we should refrain from judging and times when it is our duty to judge. The tricky part is recognizing each scenario so that we can respond appropriately.
In today’s reading Paul gives clear direction to followers of Jesus as to how to determine this.
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. (v. 12-13a)
According to Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians, those of us who follow Jesus are not to judge those who do not follow Jesus. It is the ones who claim to follow Jesus that we ought to judge according to the the claim that they have made.
In other words – don’t measure people outside of the church by standards that apply to people inside the church. For those who claim to be part of the church, however, it is the duty of the church to hold them to account regarding the commitment they have made. It has similarities to not judging a fish by how well it climbs trees, but by how well it can swim. When we judge people outside the church by church standards we place expectations upon them that God has not yet laid on them.
Perhaps the best approach might be to look most closely at the person looking back at us in the mirror since this is the only person whose actions and attitudes we actually control, and to exercise mercy with everyone else leaving room for God (who judges flawlessly) to be the one to bring them under conviction.