John 7:24 “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgement.”
Things are not always as they appear to be
Joshua was tricked into making a covenant with the Gibeonites. (Jos 9:15) Only later did he find out that they were not who they said they were! But God still held Israel responsible for that covenant. Four hundred years later, when it was broken by king Saul, God sent three years of famine upon Israel. God’s retribution on Israel only ceased when Israel asked forgiveness and made restitution to the Gibeonites. (2 Sam 2:1-14) We may forget our promises or change our minds, but God does not.
Four conditions of righteous judgment
1. Get the log out of your own eye
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgement you judge you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Matt 7:1-2) When you judge others, you volunteer yourself for the same judgement. “For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.” (1 Cor 11:30-31) It is difficult and dangerous to try to take a splinter out of someone else’s eye when you have a log in your own eye. How do I get the splinter out of my own eye?
“If we confess our sins [logs], He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) You must repent of your own sins, before you accuse someone else. Otherwise, you will not be able to see clearly or judge righteously. Haman ended up being hung on the very gallows he had built for Mordecai.
2. Get all the facts
“The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him.” (Prov 18:17) If you listen to only one side of a story, you can end up taking on a secondhand offense and disliking people you have never even met! “Make no friendship with an angry man. And with a furious man do not go, lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul.” (Prov 22:24-25) There are always three sides to every story: your side, my side, and God’s side!
3. Judge according to the Word
“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light unto my path.” (Ps 119:105) We want the mind of Christ in every situation. What does the Word say about it? The principles and the precedents in the scriptures help us to make righteous judgments. If you don’t have enough Word or wisdom to know what God is saying, talk to someone who does. I want to know the truth, not somebody’s twisted version of the truth.
4. Check your motives
Many people judge others out of their own anger or hurt. After passing severe judgement on the Corinthian church in his first epistle, Paul wrote back to them to make sure it had been received in the same spirit in which it was given: "For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you, with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you.” (2 Cor 2:4) “No chastening seems to be joyful for the present… nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness.” (Heb 12:11) We need to make judgements out of love for God, love for people, and love for the church.
Yours for Righteous Judgement and Divine Discipline,
Dr. George Hill,
Founder and President of Victory Churches International