Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”—1 John 2:3-4 (NKJV)

Perhaps you’ve noticed a shift in our society’s attitude towards exercising a sense of judgment. The concept of judging something is being progressively pushed outside the boundaries of acceptable behavior. So much so, that you stand a fair chance of being judged, yourself, if you even make such an attempt!

But let’s be clear here, there is an immense difference between being judgmental, (which is a sin to be avoided at all costs) and exercising judgment. Being judgmental is a character defect, it’s what a person is . . . always defaulting to looking down on others whenever they can. Exercising judgment is a character strength, it’s what a person does . . . not looking down on others but comparing things side by side in order to discern truth and reality.

This important difference is detailed for us in Matthew 7. Jesus begins by condemning a judgmental attitude towards others (Matthew 7:1-5) but ends the same chapter by commending the exercise of spiritual judgment (Matthew 7:15-20).

We need to be clear, there is an appropriate and healthy place for exercising judgment, but John gives us a specific example in his epistle. He reminds us that a person who claims to know Jesus must also be someone who follows His commandments. You cannot have a person profess Christ, yet consistently live contrary to His will. It’s a conflict without resolution. 

Why does John even spell this out? Because there’s an expectation to exercise judgment when it comes to those who profess to know Jesus. For truth’s sake, we’re to measure the profession against their actions to see if they match. And John isn’t afraid to say that if they don’t match, then it’s a false profession of faith.

Again, that’s something our society doesn’t like to hear, but so are a lot of things we find in God’s Word—which is why it’s God’s Word and not man’s Word. We’ve been given a sense of judgment, and we’re responsible to exercise it when it comes to spiritual things. 

And do you know who it should be exercised on first? Ourselves. Before turning our attention to others, we need to examine our own lives first. Do our actions match our profession? Let’s exercise wise judgment within God’s prescribed boundaries . . . starting with us. 

DIG: What are the differences between being judgmental and exercising judgment?

DISCOVER: Why is it important to distinguish between the two? How should this principle be first applied?

DO: Examine your life and consider whether or not you are currently exercising judgment or being judgmental. 

About the Author

Pastor Dan Hickling

Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.