Don’t Judge Your Brother
Sometimes differences in moral judgments among believers can be matters of right and wrong, while others are matters of Christian liberty. So let us take the matter of drinking wine. I believe and convinced that drinking wine in moderation can be done with thanks to the Lord. However another believer remains convinced that drinking wine is not permissible. How are we to regard and relate to one another when these kinds of differences surface?
First we are not to judge one another. Two believers hold to a common confession and worship in the same church. The believers who drinks wine does so in the presence of the brother who does not drink, perhaps at a BBQ they both are invited to. When the weak brother (=abstainer) sees the other drinking, a feeling of dissonance happens within in him. There is a discrepancy between his convictions and the practices of his co-believer. Now how does he resolve that dissonance? The answer more times that not is that he passes judgment on his brother. He thinks that his brother is sinning and defiling himself, that he is worldly and probably gets drunk when no one is around.
Meanwhile the brother who drinks sees his brother abstaining. He is tempted to judge him in some form of contempt. He thinks his fellow believer is ridiculous, a legalist, an over-scrupulous neo-puritan or what have you. Whether it is the weak passing judgment, or the strong despising, both are judging one another. But this is exactly what God tells us not to do.
There are three reasons why we should abstain from judging or despising one another in matters of genuine liberty.
1. It is not our place to judge our brother. God says, Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? (Rom. 14.4). Every believer is the servant of Christ and will give an account for his service to the Lord. We are not masters but servants and we need to know our place.
2. We should esteem each other more highly. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God (Rom. 14:6). In matters of Christian liberty, instead of judging, we should see our brothers as expressing their convictions before the Lord in honor of him. If not we may be despising one with whom the Lord is pleased.
3. We should not judge because we will be judged ourselves. Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God (Romans 14:10). In other words our very judging or despising is accountable to Christ. He will call us to give account of ourselves when we stand before him. By intruding the future day of judgment into this common situation, the word of God makes our judging in the here and now a vastly solemn subject.
So whether we see a brother exercising his liberty in Christ or whether we see a brother abstaining, the mature thing to do is remember that he is a servant of Christ honoring his Lord.