September 17, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“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 (NIV)
Perhaps you’ve been in some sort of performance before or participated in a sport. If you have, then you know what it’s like to receive criticism. It’s not always the most pleasant experience; however, it’s beneficial to receive feedback from someone you trust and someone who knows what you’re doing. This even applies to receiving criticism in the workplace. Evaluation reports are something I always feel nervous about, yet whenever I get one, I leave feeling refreshed and grateful that my supervisor was able to both encourage me in what I’m doing well and call me out in areas of weakness so I can grow.
With this concept in mind, reading today’s passage might make more sense. Paul has just addressed a difficult situation in the Corinthian Church regarding sexual sin. He knows there are people in the audience who will probably question his view on calling out this sin in the Church. He anticipates these reactions and decides to remind the people that there’s a difference between judging those outside of the Church and those within the Church.
When we think of the word judgment in our current society, it has a very negative connotation. Most of us think that judging others is wrong because it’s based on assumptions, biases, and oftentimes hypocrisy because we don’t hold ourselves to the same standards we hold others to. This kind of judgment; however, is also frowned upon by both Jesus and Paul! Jesus once said, “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?” (Matthew 7:3 NIV). Paul also admits this in today’s Scripture: “God will judge those outside.”
As believers, we’re not supposed to judge those who aren’t followers of Christ because we were once in their very same position. We’re not perfect and have no authority to judge those who have not come under the grace of God. On the other hand, within the family of Christ, there’s an important practice of accountability that must not be forgotten. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we must commit to calling out sinful behavior in each other with grace and love so we can continue on this journey of becoming more like Jesus together. This kind of “judgment” is better known as accountability, not the unfair and hypocritical judgment that we know in society.
In the same way we receive criticism well from a director, a teammate, or a co-worker, we must do the same in the Church. This must take place under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and hand-in-hand with the grace and love of Christ that covers us all as believers.
Pause: Have you ever experienced a fellow believer calling out a sinful behavior or struggle in your life? Perhaps you’ve experienced it in a negative way. Reflect on whatever moments come to your mind.
Practice: Think about an area you may need accountability for. Write that down and pray about it. Brainstorm ideas of a fellow believer you can invite into that area of your life to help keep you accountable in it.
Pray: Father, thank You for being gentle with me yet willing to call out my sinful and harmful behaviors. Thank You that when I entered into Your family, I entered into a family of other imperfect people who are living in Your grace and for Your glory! I pray I would invest more in this family and not only allow them to call out sin in me, but that I would also practice loving them in grace and truth by doing the same for them. Amen!
Samy Rodriguez has been serving with the Calvary writing team since 2020 as a senior at Calvary Christian Academy. Before going to study communications, biblical studies, and intercultural studies at Palm Beach Atlantic University, she interned with the Calvary Communications Team and was a student leader in HSM (High School Ministry). She is passionate about communicating God’s Word and looks forward to continuing to serve in ministry after college.