Proud of Permissiveness

Jerry Sittser

READ : 1 Corinthians 5:1-13

Is it not those who are inside that you are to judge? (v. 12)

I have heard the comment a hundred times. “Christians aren’t supposed to judge!” It is true as far as it goes. Jesus did command his followers not to judge but instead to attend to their own faults first (Matt. 7:1-5).

But the opposite – avoidance of judgment – is no better, and perhaps even worse. Every so often I hear about a church member who commits sin brazenly, as if to test the church’s limits. Such was the case in Corinth. A man, Paul writes, was sleeping with his own stepmother. Paul was horrified that the church did not seem to care. If anything, they were even proud of their permissiveness. Such permissiveness was bound to affect the entire church, like bad leaven ruining the entire loaf.

Christians are imperfect vessels (2 Cor. 4:7) who must learn to live in the fallen world. But they must also try to maintain the purity of the church. Paul charged the Corinthians to discipline the errant believer. It was time for judgment to begin in the household of God.

Yet Jesus would add one word of caution: We should always begin by examining ourselves. Though we cannot neglect to pull the sliver out of someone else’s eye, we should take the plank from our own first (Matt. 7:1-5).


Dear God, give us the wisdom to judge others fairly and the humility to judge ourselves first. Amen.