Isn’t Avoiding People The Same As Judging Them?

Q. Regarding the warning against judging others in Matt. 7:1-2. Paul said we are not to socialize with sinners, so isn’t that judging? Not their eternal destination, but their actions? Thanks so much for your help.

A. The Greek word translated judge in Matt. 7:1-2 means to pronounce judgment or make a determination about someone. In 1 Cor. 5:9-11 Paul wrote,

I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people– not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

Paul’s admonition against associating with believers who exhibit certain kinds of behavior was not given with the intent of judging them. It’s an application of the “one bad apple spoils the whole barrel” theory that’s meant to protect us. By avoiding them we remove ourselves from a source of temptation that could result in compromising our own standards.

When a married person declines an invitation from friends to spend an evening with them in a single’s bar he’s not judging them. He’s avoiding a situation that could tempt him to do something he shouldn’t do.

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