Answer. – The Lord says, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” (John 7:24.) St. Paul says, “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come.” (I Cor. 4:5.) The question then arises, What is “righteous judgment”? A righteous judgment is a right decision. But since we cannot read the heart, how can we render a right decision? The Scriptures answer that we cannot read one another’s hearts and therefore should not attempt to judge them.
If, then, we cannot judge each other’s hearts, motives or intentions, what can we judge? The answer of Scripture is that we may judge each other’s conduct. If we see one of the Lord’s people doing something improper, we might say, “Dear Brother (or Sister), your conduct would seem to be contrary to the Word of God, and to be bringing forth bad fruitage.” If that person should reply, “It does not seem to me that I am doing wrong,” we must not judge or condemn that one’s heart. But we should judge between good and evil conduct, and at the proper time and place call attention to the matter and leave it there.
There is a difference between judging the heart, which we have no right to do, and judging the conduct, which is right to do. But it does not always follow that our judgment of another’s conduct must always be right. We are all prone to make mistakes.
If we should come to a brother and say, “Dear Brother, your conduct seems to be wrong, but I am sure that you want to do right. Will you explain?” He may be able to show us that the fruitage was good when we thought it bad. We may have misunderstood the matter. We are not to condemn our brother, but to go directly to him and get his view. Then if we cannot agree, we should tell him how it seems to us, and ask him to judge his own heart. We can do no more.