By Jeffery Kingry
Few of our Lord’s words are more abused than “Judge not, that ye be not judged. (Matt. 7:1). Actually, Jesus was not condemning judgment by his saints (to separate, select, choose, to determine, decide, judge, pronounce right or wrong). He was condemning a certain type of judgment. “Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (Jn. 7:24). There are two kinds of judgment: That which is according to appearance, and that which is according to God’s standard of right.
Yes, But I Know Why He Did It
Men often judge another’s intents and motives while observing their actions. I once knew a brother who made a special trip to help reconcile brethren he knew in a church feud. Those who did not want reconciliation at tempted to minimize his efforts by such comments as, “He is doing it because they have bribed him some way!” Men who produce voluminous amounts of energy and work in preaching and writing are sometimes accused of “trying to make a big name for themselves.” This is a dangerous business when men look at good done – preaching the gospel, reconciling brethren, etc., and call it evil for having judged the other’s motives and intents as unworthy. “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of the man which is within him” (1 Cor. 2:11).
Those who do not consent to merely follow our Lord in relationship to their brethren are characterized by an over-high opinion of themselves, and hardly, if ever know anything rightly. Always misunderstood and misunderstanding they are filled with a morbid appetite for raising questions and controversies over simple matters, and are involved in endless speculations over mere words. They are a constant mill grinding out such emotions as jealousy, quarreling, insulting innuendoes, and unfair and hurtful insinuations (evil surmisings, KJV). We are told that from such men come constant friction because their spirits have become atrophied in their small hearts. So deprived of the truth are they that they often think godliness akin to their own personal acquisition. If they are able to profit personally in any quarrel they choose the side most beneficial to themselves. From such men we are commanded to turn away from in disgust (1 Tim. 6:4ff).
Not According To Appearance
We must be careful therefore)when we begin to make up our mind on issues and personalities that we do it on a just and equitable basis. We cannot pass judgment upon others through our criticism, if we ourselves do not want the same manner of judgment in return. Our Lord told us to treat others as we would be treated. God will treat us as we have treated others (Matt. 7:1, 2). It is an enigma how some expect they can stand before God to receive mercy, grace and judgment while they have always insisted on their dues from others, and ignored the rights of their brethren if it was the least bit uncomfortable for them. These have great perception and can discern the thoughts and intents of other’s minds. They are aware of the tiniest fleck of dust in the eye of their neighbor and are swift to seek to remove it, while their own eyes are half blinded and evilly sore with their own splinter. How is it they feel competent to tell others of the mud on their cuff while they themselves wallow in the mire? A godly rebuke to such people is akin to entering a Texas razorback’s pen to interest him in fine jewelry. You will be lucky to escape with your life by approaching such a mean Texas pig. Such a foolhardy soul might find his tender young hide hung on a barb wire fence for all his trouble (Matt. 7:36).
Friends Can Do No Wrong
Have you ever noticed our mutual propensity for those we love, and our swiftness to “think evil” of those we do not care for? One reason is that we seldom judge, but react. Godly judgment is according to righteousness and not according to appearance. It reminds me of “our” propaganda during the Vietnamese war. The Viet Communists’ efforts at caring for the people was “brain washing” and “propaganda.” “They” did it only to further their political cause and speed their military conquest. “They” were not really interested in the people except as pawns in their scheme. Now, “we’-‘ were different. Our “Pacification Program” was designed to “win the hearts and minds of the people.” Our “Chien Hoi” program was to help the people. One was politically motivated to win a military end, and the other was a sincere effort to help the people? Hardly. They both had the same end. It just depended which “side” you happened to be on.
Or, the illustration of the mother who speaking to her friend about her children declared, “My daughter has married the most wonderful man. He serves her breakfast in bed, takes off work to take her shopping or to have lunch with her. He even helps around, the apartment with the housework. My son? Oh, he, married a really lazy and incompetent woman! She lays in bed after he gets up and he must feed her in bed. He is always being interrupted at his job and is supposed to attend her every whim. She is so extravagant they are reduced to living in a small apartment and he must do most of the housework because of her ineptness!” It just depends on how you look at it.
Paul told us by the Holy Spirit how we are to “look at it.” “Love is slow to lose patience and looks for ways to be helpful. Love never boils with jealousy. Neither is love anxious to impress or arrogant. Love is never rude, it does not insist on its own rights, is not quick to take offense, and keeps no score of wrongs. Love takes no pleasure over other men’s failings, but always joyfully sides with right. Love is always slow to expose, always eager to believe the best, hopes under all circumstances, and endures without limit” (1 Cor. 13:4-7). What a wonderful experience it would be if brethren everywhere loved one another as much as they loved their own children, wives, or husband! Indeed, we are God’s family, and one another’s brethren, yet who would know? Who would know? “In this the children of God are manifest and the children of the devil: Whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother” (1 Jn. 3:10).
The Peanut Gallery
There is indeed a “nut gallery” made up of all those spectator Christians who are of the type who shout abuse at ball games and political rallies. They are extremely critical and vocal in their criticism, yet equally extremely exempt from any action. These are the true “Antis.” They are plainly “agin,” everything and everybody. They are disdainful of all those “hypocrites in the church.” They are quick to tell of other’s sins, but not willing to confront them and help them change. In fact they are often afraid of change. Then they might have to forgive, and could no longer hold comtempt with a “clear conscience.” Other people’s sins are mere topics of conversation with them, not a reason for action. They are not willing to teach, preach, serve, work, visit, or study, but they are extremely critical of those who do.
When one does good, we can only conclude if there is no other evidence, that the fruit comes from a good tree. This is what was so perverse with the Jews. They preferred Jesus an evil man, and they could not countenance his good with their prejudiced picture of him: So, “He cast out devils by the power of the Devil.” Today, we often make up our mind about someone, and must engage in evil surmising to square our concept with his actions. Righteous judgment requires we judge men according to God’s word not by how we would like them to be. “He that doeth good is of God; But he that doeth not good hath not seen God” (3 Jn. 11). “Let love be without dissimulation. Hate what is wrong while clinging to that which is right” (Rom. 12:9). The Jews even went so far as to change the simple meaning of the Scriptures to provide self-justification for their actions rather than accept the truth (Matt. 15:1-9).
It is a little matter to be judged by men’s standards unjustly. God is the only judge we have to ultimately deal with. If we seek to follow the right and encourage others to remain within the light, then we will not suffer from judgment, either in this world or the one to come (Jn. 12:44-45; 1 Jn. 1:6, 7).
Truth Magazine XXI: 15, pp. 235-237
April 14, 1977