If you ask those who do not attend church why they refuse to go, some will answer that it is because the church is full of hypocrites. Others will say they don’t attend because the church is too judgmental. Ironically, Paul would say that if the church is full of hypocrites, it is because the church doesn’t judge enough.
Many people mistakenly believe that when Jesus said “Do not judge” in Matthew 7:1, He meant that we should never make a judgment about another’s behavior. They ignore the fact that Jesus also told His disciples not to “give dogs what is sacred” or “throw your pearls to pigs,” two commands which require an assessment of character (Matt. 7:6). Jesus’ command not to judge is a warning about the danger of judging others without first judging yourself (Matt. 7:3–5). His main point is that we should apply the same standard to ourselves that we use for others.
In today’s passage, Paul echoes Jesus’ teaching on judgment when he tells the Corinthians that the church has a responsibility to “judge those inside” (v. 12). Specifically, he tells them to put out of their fellowship a man who had been sleeping with his father’s wife (v. 1). The aim of this kind of church discipline is not punitive but redemptive (v. 5). It places the erring member in a position to experience a combination of social and spiritual pressure, hoping that they will repent (vv. 9–11; see 1 Tim. 1:20). Accountability is a relational practice that begins with a conversation between two people who care about one another (Matt. 18:15).
>> Don’t fret over the morality of unbelievers. Paul’s directive to the church in such matters is to tend to its own and let God judge those who are outside. Jesus would say, “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matt. 7:5).
It is unloving to ignore another believer’s sin. Lord, give us love that grieves over another’s sin because it separates them from You. Give us love to confront them on their sin for the purpose of restoration.