There is much confusion on the part of Christians and non-Christians concerning judging. With the help of God we will now endeavor to clear away all the cobwebs.
The average religionist, it would seem, believes we are not to judge, no exception or qualification offered. Such a belief is patently simplistic. The truth is we are judging when we condemn one for judging. When one exclaims, "you are wrong because we are not to judge," they themselves have just judged. In too many cases, the claim "judge not" is a cop out, one is seeking to avoid an issue.
All judgment is not wrong! How can we "try the spirits" (1 John 4:1), receive not errorists, and "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them" (Eph. ) if we do not judge (discern and pronounce as wrong)? The truth of the matter is we cannot please God without rendering judgment (2 John 9-11). In a single sentence Jesus forbad certain judgment and commanded another type of judgment. Hear him: "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment" (John ). "Judgment" is from krisis, "…a separating…then a decision" (W.E. Vine). You will notice that Jesus is not simply allowing a certain type of judgment – he is requiring it! God's word is the standard for all judgment (John ). Paul judged Peter "according to the truth of the gospel" (Gal. ). Righteous judgment, therefore, is judgment which is based on the teaching of the scriptures (cf. Ps. 119:172). By using the word and knowing the pertinent facts, we are judging righteous judgment.
many instances of justified judgment seen in the scriptures.
As just observed, Jesus taught righteous judgment (John ). Not only did He teach it,
also approved righteous judgment (Luke ;
When does judging become wrong?
Our judgment becomes wrong when we judge "according to appearance" (John ). The Jews were judging (condemning) Jesus because it appeared he had broken the Sabbath by healing a man on the Sabbath (John -24). Their judgment was shallow and based on appearance (they did not possess all the facts concerning the Sabbath law). It may have appeared that Jesus was violating the Sabbath day law, but in reality he was not.
Our judgment becomes wrong when we are just as
as or worse than those whom we are judging (
Our judgment becomes wrong if it is in an area of liberty. Paul asked the cogent question, "But why dost thou judge thy brother...?" (Rom. ). Some were judging others over matters of indifference - certain days, eating meat, and drink (vs. 3, 6, and 21). Such matters did not involve sin (vs. 14).
Our judgment becomes wrong when we use carnal standards. Some judge using the standard of materialism (Luke ; James 2:1-4), traditionalism (Mark 7), or the Law of Moses (Col. 2:14-17). Prejudicial judgment is pronounced as wrong. If we answer a matter before we hear it, Solomon said, "It is folly and shame" (Prov. ). Many employ the standard of majority rule, "the majority cannot be wrong, so you must be!"
Our judgment becomes wrong when it's based on subjective feelings. "I feel such is wrong (or right) within my heart," some say. People who thus judge are guilty of subjective judgment. The wise man wrote: "He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool" (Prov. 28:26). In using such an individual subjective standard of judgment, people can seldom agree. We are to "walk wisely," using God’s word as the standard (Prov. 28:26; John ).
Our judgment becomes wrong when we assume the role of a judge. Jesus said, "For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son" (John ). Judgment is sinful when it is the result of a disposition simply to condemn. You or I must not act as final judge (James 4:11-12; see 2 Cor. 5:10). Again, this is not to say that we are not to apply God’s word, coupled with all relevant facts, and determine the rightness or wrongness of a matter.
Our judgment becomes wrong when it's based on the
of motives. God knows men’s hearts (John );
however, we do not know the thoughts of others (1 Cor. ). Instead of attempting to
motives, we are to judge others’ fruit or actions (Matt. -20).