“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” [John 7:24]
In a previous post (how to judge others) I wrote about what I think it means to take the plank out of your own eye so that you can clearly see the speck in your brother’s eye. I also mentioned that one of the many reasons why Jesus commands us not to judge is due to our inability to rightly discern the true problem of the heart. What I mean is that, man looks at the outward appearance and judges by that. God, on the other hand looks at the heart.
With that thought in mind, I’d like to propose that judging goes beyond the mere negative criticism and thinking negative thoughts about a person. It is much deeper than that. Here’s a radical proposition: To think “false” positive thoughts about a person is as bad as thinking “false” negative thoughts about a person. What do I mean? The simple explanation is this: Saying that someone is bad because of what they did is falsely judging their character and making a false conclusion about the state of their heart. Likewise, saying that someone is good because of what they did is falsely judging their character and making a false conclusion about the state of their heart.
How many people do you consider good? How many friends do you consider better than others (or better than yourself) and what are the reasons for this? Do you regard them as good friends because they are good to you? Do you regard them as good people because they do good things, like helping you out and pleasing you? When you say that someone is a good person, are you referring to the state of their heart or the state of their acts towards you? Are you seeing how this is also a form of judging someone falsely? To make a conclusive statement about a person’s character based on their actions alone (good or bad) is to judge that person falsely. It is what Samuel did when he saw Eliab.
When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.”
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” [1 Samuel 16:6-7]
The dictionary defines judging as: “To form an opinion or estimation of after careful consideration.“
So, re-examine yourself. How many times have you judged the people you love? It is so easy to focus on how we judge our enemies and condemn it. But Satan is Subtle, because he distracts us from realizing that we are constantly walking around judging our friends falsely and praising them falsely because of the positive attributes they display. To judge a person rightly based on their positive attributes demands that we accredit those attributes to Jesus, whether or not they are hypocritical on their part. That is what it means to judge with right judgment (John 7:24).
I will echo my previous post on judging others: “To judge rightly is to let Jesus judge. It is to acknowledge that you are standing next to the other person before a holy and righteous judge, awaiting a similar fate.“
Judging is not just about the bad stuff. The good stuff is just as bad if we accredit it to people rather than to Christ. As a matter of fact, to judge a person and regard them as better people due to their outward display of righteousness is to ignore Jesus, and is thus an irreverent act. It borders on idol worship. To judge another person rightly is to see them in the light of the Cross, as mere sinners in need of the Cross, just like you. To judge others rightly is to rest in the assurance that Christ knows them best, and will judge them as their deeds and heart deserve.
~ Ngare ~