The Truth about Judging


      The average religionist, it would seem, believes we are not to judge, no exception or qualification offered. Such a belief is patently simplistic. 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.

     The scriptures require righteous judgment. "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment," Jesus taught (Jn. 7: 24, "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! Of course, it is true man is not the official judge and, therefore, must not attempt to assume such a posture (Jas. 4: 11, 12, see 2 Cor. 5: 10). Righteous judgment is judgment which is based on the teaching of the scriptures (cf. Ps. 119: 172, more later).

     There are many instances of justified judgment seen in the scriptures. As just observed, Jesus taught righteous judgment (Jn. 7: 24). Lydia asked Paul to judge her to determine her faithfulness (Acts 16: 15). Paul did not say, "Lydia, we must not judge!" Paul urged the Christians at Rome to judge (Rom. 2: 27). Paul himself rendered judgment in the case of the fornicator being in sin and encouraged the church at Corinth to do the same (I Cor. 5: 3, 12, "judge" is here used in the sense of assessing the facts and rendering condemnation). Christians are commanded to judge in cases of alleged abuses and mistreatments one of another (I Cor. 6: 1-6). Keep in mind, however, the judgment is righteous judgment. The facts in a given situation must be known and the correct standard must be used – the word of God (Jn. 7: 24, 14-23, 12: 48, see Gal. 2: 14, Paul judged Peter "according to the truth of the gospel").

     When we must not judge. Just as the scriptures require the proper judgment, the scriptures condemn the wrong judgment. For instance, we must not judge simply "according to appearance" (Jn. 7: 24). It may have appeared that Jesus was violating the sabbath day law, but in reality he was not (Jn. 7: 14-24). We are not to judge if we are just as guilty as those whom we are judging (Rom. 2: 1-3, 19-24). Jesus condemned judgment when the ones judging are worse than the ones being judged (Matt. 7: 1-5). Appreciate the fact, though, that Jesus said, "…first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye" (vs. 5). We are to remove all hindrances which can distort our judgment – then, we are to judge! Moreover, we are to avoid judgment in areas which involve liberty (not sinful), and carnal standards (Rom. 14: 2-6, 10, 13, Jas. 2: 1-4).

     Beloved, the truth of the matter is, we cannot please God without rendering judgment (2 Jn. 9-11, Eph. 5: 10, 11). However, we must make sure our judgment is righteous judgment!