To hear some folks talk, you would think that "Christian Judges" was at best an oxymoron, and at worst, the unpardonable sin. Most Christians and non-Christians alike are quick to quote the Lord Who said, "Judge not, that ye be not judged" (Matt. 7:1). And, I must admit that there are several places in the New Testament that clearly say we are not to judge others. There are also verses that tell the Christian to judge wisely. Since I know the Word of God is perfect and therefore can not contradict itself, what is the explanation for the confusion?
Perhaps it has to do with the motivation of the judge. The same passage that tell us not to judge, also tells us we will be held accountable to the same standard (Matt. 7:2). It tells us that we are to be living a righteous life ourselves before we attempt to correct others (Matt. 7:3-5). Notice it does not say "don't judge," but it says we are to be qualified (living by the same standard we are demanding for others). The Apostle Paul judged a situation he had heard about and even sentenced the offender to death (physical, not spiritual - 1 Cor. 5:3-5).
In the following chapter, he admonishes Christians to judge improper behavior of other Christians, apparently to maintain fellowship amongst the brethren (1 Cor. 6:1-5). Although he does not say so, he seems to be suggesting that Christians taking their grievances to unbelievers to judge is harmful to our witness. Remember, Jesus said it was our unity that testified to the lost world that Jesus was sent by His Father, and that God loves mankind with the same love He has for Jesus (Jn. 17:21-23).
Unity is the goal, and love should be the motivation when it comes to Christians judging the brethren. In Matthew 18:15-19, we are told of steps Christians should take to resolve conflicts. The final step requires Christians to judge one's behavior and banish him from the assembly if he does not repent. Galatians 6:1 tells the brethren to go to a brother who is involved in sin and attempt to restore him to fellowship; again, it is the motive. John 7:24 says, "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." So our judgment must not only be motivated by love, it must be according to the Word of God, our standard for righteousness.
How is a Christian supposed to beware of wolves in sheep's clothing and those who cause division if we do not judge? If we are supposed to have nothing to do with the unrepentant (Matt. 18:17) and the divisive (Rom. 16:17), how will we know who they are if we are not to judge? We must judge but we must judge ourselves to make sure our goal is reconciliation and our motive is love.