It is common, in our society today, to hear that “Jesus loves everyone” and “Jesus said not to judge” and I see it all the time in the classroom. While both those statements are essentially true there is too often a simplistic understanding of them, that would make Jesus appear to not have a moral code or any sort of rules, which is false.
In class I have been trying to help students to understand what “judgement” actually means. That yes, Jesus loves everyone, but He also said, “Go and sin no more”. Jesus never preached about doing whatever you want.
The common misunderstanding, with students, is that they think the word “judging” means you cannot tell someone that they are doing something wrong. But, there is nothing wrong with judging someone’s action as right or wrong, however, there is something wrong with judging the actual person. A teacher may disapprove of a students’ actions and tell them that what they did was wrong, but they don’t (or shouldn’t!) judge the actual student as a person, as in forever banishing them to the “bad student” corner.
Could you imagine a world where we didn’t judge actions? We would have kids being hit by cars because they were never corrected about looking both ways before crossing, we would have students failing tests and assignments because no one pointed out how procrastination hinders success in school. What kind of friend would you be if you kept silent, or even worse supported a friend drinking and driving home?
They have forgotten to love the sinner, but hate the sin. “Don’t judge me” has become another simple catch phrase people use on others, who criticize them, or their friends. When enough people buy into the idea that judging actions is the same as judging the person, then it becomes “uncool” to speak out against it. This is the perfect situation for lovers of moral relativism, because no one likes to be criticized or to be in the wrong.
Of course, there is always the risk that you can become too strong in how you tell someone their error and if one does not do it correctly, with charity, it can come off as self-rightous and indeed judgemental. This is a challenge for sure, and at times it is a lot easier to just say nothing and nod your head in acceptance. It is something I am not good at, and wish I could be better, but until then prayer is always the best alternative.