For what [ have ] I [ to do ] with judging those also who are outside?
If you talk to anyone nowadays who makes the merest claim to be a Christian, ( though they're usually 'spiritual but not religious' ) about some inconsistency in their life ( usually some sort of encompassing & unrepentant sin ), you will likely have the verse from Matthew 7, above, thrown in your face! If you quickly back-pedal & stop condemning their ( wrong ) life choices, you might retain their friendship, but don't dare mention it again, because, 'only God can judge me!'
Like our Great Example, we are to have compassion on those we see around us who are beset with temptation & sin, but never to the point that we tolerate their sin & especially not that we compromise & begin to partake in it! When faced with 'the woman caught in adultery' & her accusers ( John 8:1-11 ), Jesus, after He had shamed her accusers, told the woman, 'Neither do I condemn you; go and[k] sin no more.' Though He did not condemn her for her lifestyle, He did condemn her ( reputed ) adultery.
Jesus told His disciples, 'Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.' ( Matthew 19:28 ) Though this promise was fulfilled in its first-century context, it continues to be fulfilled today, in the sense that we, as Christians, the modern--day disciples of Christ, are called to judge! Not only are we to judge for ourselves whether this is right & that is wrong ( Luke 12:57 ) I Corinthians 6:2-4, 10:15, 11:31 ), we are to judge those who live inconsistently with their proclaimed faith!
Condemnation is not what we are called to! Many Christians seem to believe that we are called to condemn 'the world', but condemnation has already been passed; the judgment was rendered ( executed ) throughout the history of Israel as recorded in the pages of Scripture.We are called to the ministry of reconciliation & though we may condemn their unrighteous actions, we should rather call them to repentance, reconciling them to righteousness & leading them on the good path. When we see a brother or sister struggling, we need to show them a better way by being to them the example that Jesus is to us; judging but not condemning!
Compassion is in itself a judgment; it is a decision we make, whether or not to condemn one for their particular sin, or to consider that we ourselves, when put to the test in a similar situation might not fare any better! We are all human & though we, as followers of Jesus, have been cleansed of all unrighteousness, we are still surrounded & yes, beset by the hordes of unrighteousness. 'There, but for the Grace of God, go I', is a very fitting statement. We should realize that, except for the Grace of God on our lives ( you might say, 'His Hedge of Protection' ), we might be on the wrong end of the stick that we poke at others with!
The apostle Paul wrote, 'he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is [ rightly ] judged by no one'; this is not to differentiate between those who are spiritual & those who are religious! A truly spiritual person IS religious; their spirit, knowing the difference between right & wrong & holding to that which IS right, will work its way out through their fingertips, manifesting itself in what James calls 'pure and undefiled religion' ( James 1:27 ).
By not compromising with unadulterated sin, but yet having compassion on those weighed down by it, we show them the example Jesus set for us & fulfill the ministry of reconciliation we are called to!
Charles Haddon Shank