Author: Ron Graham
Right and Wrong Judgment
—Judging and being judged
Jesus said, "Do not judge..." (Luke 6:37). But he also said, "Judge righteous judgment" (John 7:24).
Jesus wouldn't contradict himself, so there must be two kinds of judging, one that is wrong to do, and one that is right. It is our responsibility and challenge to cease judging wrongly, and to make right and proper judgments in all things.
1 Right Judgment
- Judgment that marks those who cause offense. How can we "mark those who cause dissensions and stumblings" (Romans 16:17-18) without making a judgment about them?
- Judgment that settles arguments between brethren. How can a mediator be appointed to "decide between his brethren" and settle a dispute (1Corinthians 6:1-5) if he is not allowed to judge?
- Judgment in order to rebuke. How can anyone "reprove, rebuke, and exhort..." (2Timothy 4:1-2) or "turn a sinner from the error of his ways" (James 5:19-20) if nobody is allowed to judge that someone is at fault?
2 Wrong Judgment
- Judgment that is hypocritical. "You hypocrite, first take out the log that is in your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye" (Matthew 7:1-5).
- Judgment that is prejudiced. People were making many judgments of Jesus, but the Pharisees were highly prejudiced in their judgments of him. Nicodemus took them to task for this (John 7:40-52).
- Judgment that is unjust and unmerciful. In all judgments, the principle should be followed, "Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:32). "He has told you O man what is good, and what does the Lord require of you, to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8).
- Judgment that is premature. Sometimes a situation is too confused and too full of deception to make a sound judgment. In such cases, "Do not pass judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will bring to light the things hidden in darkness and disclose the motives of people's hearts..." (1Corinthians 4:5).
- Judgment that is unscriptural. If we make any judgment which "goes too far and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ" (2John 1:9) our judgment is not right. "If any man speak, let him speak as it were the oracles of God" (1Peter 4:11).
3 Last Judgment
- Judgment will be judged. Looking back to that passage in Matthew about hypocritical judgment, we note something else that Jesus said: "In the way you judge, you shall be judged, and by your standard of measure it will be measured to you" (Matthew 7:2).
This is a sobering thought. When we are judging others, we must remember that we are accountable for our judgments to Jesus Christ who will judge us in the last day (2Timothy 4:1).
Note:— The above lesson simplifies a sermon from many years ago when it was normal to preach for the best part of an hour. I've cut it to less than 30 minutes and I think it remains a very good sermon on judgment. But you be the judge.