To Judge Or Not To

Jul 10, 2024 | The Chuck Wagon

“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”
John 7:24; NASB

We are living in very interesting times. In some ways, it brings to mind what scripture tells us was the condition of Israel during the time of the judges. They lost sight of God and lived according to their feelings. The book of judges ends with this sad statement, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). The idol we all end up worshiping, if we are not careful, is the idol of self. One common thread throughout the Old Testament (besides Jesus) is that when we lose sight of God as our king, we begin to self-destruct. Solomon wrote: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding (Prov. 3:5). Imagine how differently we would live if we simply followed that one verse.

One essential part of living a holy life in this world is the proper use of judgment. We must learn to judge the people and situations in our lives properly in order to avoid falling to into sin. It is an improper understanding of Scripture that has some believing we should not judge others. Jesus did not say judging one another was wrong. He said, “…first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Mt. 7:5). He also warned us, “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine…” (Mt. 7:6a). How could one possibly adhere to that without judging? Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “For I, on my part, though absent in the body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has committed this as though I were present” (1 Cor. 5:3).

Righteous judgment is the judgment of behavior or beliefs using God’s word as the basis for the judgment. You should never judge an individual’s worth by the words they have spoken or the things they have done. Everyone is part of God’s creation, and we are commanded to love one another. We should, however, judge their actions according to His word and make decisions based on that judgment. When Jesus went to Jerusalem and found merchants and moneychangers in the temple profiting from the required sacrifices, He became very angry. He judged their actions, not the people (although He is the ultimate judge) (see Jn. 2:13-16).

The appearance of things, situations, or people is subjective. What you might think is wrong or unattractive someone else might consider right and beautiful. When we judge according to our preferences, we fast become judgmental of things based solely on our opinions. That is how we get to be like Israel was in the times of the judges. Unfortunately, many in this world have become like them. Judging according to anything other than God’s word will lead to selfish and hypocritical judgment. This is what Jesus was warning us about in the Matthew passages.

In today’s world, negativity and judgmentalism bombard us from every angle. Social media is especially prone to this behavior. Experiencing righteous anger or passing righteous judgment are protections with which God has covered us. The focus of your anger should be sin itself, and judgment on the effects or results of that sin. Our reaction should be to pray for those who cause the righteous anger, confronting only when necessary; and to make wise choices in response to righteous judgment. Trust the Holy Spirit to guide you through both.

God bless and have a great week

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