"I am the vine, you are the branches"
Who Made You Judge?
We want to look at what the Bible tells us about judging. You hear it all the time, that you should not judge, but what does that really mean?
Let’s start with Matthew 7:1-5. “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For by the standard you judge you will be judged, and the measure you use will be the measure you receive. Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye,’ while there is a beam in your own? You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Leviticus 19:15 tells us this: “You must not deal unjustly in judgment: You must neither show partiality to the poor nor honor the rich. You must judge your fellow citizen fairly.”
We see here that one passage is telling us not to judge or else we will be judged, and then in Leviticus that we must judge our brother fairly. So which way is it? Well, maybe it is both ways.
So let’s look at a few examples in the Bible to see what this all means.
Exodus 2:11-14 tells us, “One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, ‘Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?’ The man said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?’ Then Moses was afraid and thought, ‘What I did must have become known.’”
So was Moses judging his fellow man, or was he just looking for justice?
Romans 14:4 tell us this: “Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”
Yeshua said that He did not come to judge the world but to save it, for there would come a time for judgment; and yet Leviticus tells us to judge one fairly.
So are we talking about the same thing here? One kind of judging may be for justice and another kind of judging may be for wrong motives.
Let’s look at Luke’s version of not judging. Luke tells us this in Luke 6:37-45: “‘Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be poured into your lap. For the measure you use will be the measure you receive.’ He also told them a parable: ‘Someone who is blind cannot lead another who is blind, can he? Won’t they both fall into a pit? A disciple is not greater than his teacher, but everyone when fully trained will be like his teacher. Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own? How can you say to your brother, “Brother, let me remove the speck from your eye,” while you yourself don’t see the beam in your own? You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from brambles. The good person out of the good treasury of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasury produces evil, for his mouth speaks from what fills his heart.’”
We see here a whole different picture. When we judge someone, that same measure that we used to judge them will also judge us. So we must be sure that we have our facts straight.
Yeshua, after healing a man on the Sabbath, had this to say to His judges: “If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the Law of Moses will not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made an entire man well on the Sabbath? Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:23-24).
And again, John 8:14-17 records this: “Yeshua answered and said to them, ‘Even if I testify about Myself, My testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge according to the flesh; I am not judging anyone. But even if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and the Father who sent Me. Even in your law it has been written that the testimony of two men is true.’”
We see that Yeshua was being judged by wrong motives. They did not have their facts straight when they accused Him. They were judging Him by appearance and according to the flesh. They were not judging Him fairly. I guess that saying, “walk a mile in my shoes” (which means to spend time trying to consider or understand another person's perspectives, experiences, or motivations before making a judgment about them) is right on.
We are supposed to look at the tree to see what kind of fruit is being grown. How else can we tell a false prophet from one that is true, or even a teacher or preacher? How else can we determine if a situation is right or wrong? This is called discernment.
But when you judge for the sake of gossip or to ruin a person’s reputation, beware, for you will also be judged by that same standard. Moses judged for the sake of justice, good over evil, but even in these situations we can look at things only through our own eyes and we can be wrong. We are all different people with different backgrounds and experiences.
Paul tells us the best way is to not judge and then you will not be judged, for we will all give an account, as Romans 14:10-19 tells us: “You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before Me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’ So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Yeshua that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Messiah died. So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Messiah is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”
Paul is not condoning sin or an ungodly lifestyle, but he is saying to accept people for who they are or where they are in their walk with God. The bottom line is just a matter of loving one another.
2 Peter 1:4-11 tells us, “Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Messiah Yeshua. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Messiah Yeshua.”
So, who made you judge? No one except yourself.
Now, there are times when we must judge or analyse a situation that will require us to judge, like sitting on a jury. Then we must pass on a verdict based on clear evidence and without partiality, and of course, everything must be established by two or three witnesses.
Most of all we must pray that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, will lead us in all truth. But every day we encounter situations and circumstances that require us to cast a verdict or render a decision. Maybe it has to do with a neighbor or a co-worker, a family member, or a friend. We must first be impartial, give the person the benefit of the doubt, without casting judgement before we have all the facts. Then we must go and reason together.
John 7:51 says “Does our law judge a man before investigating to know what he has done?”
You have to hear both sides of the story, because there are always two sides to every story. You must ask yourself, “From what I know of this person, does this sound like what I know about them?” (The fruit never lies.) If we rush to judgment, it may only be gossip, hearsay, or someone’s opinion, and that kind of fire spreads fast and hot and has very serious consequences, and most times the damage can not be reconciled.
Let love prevail. Being quick to listen and slow to anger is the wise move. Do not render a judgment quickly, for time always bears out the truth. Most of all, pray about such things, and you will find that wisdom is your best friend (and may also keep your friend).
We live in a fast moving world with social media and the telephone—a tweet here, a tweet there, instagram and the like—but we cannot be like the world. We follow a much higher ethical standard. Remember, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Measure for measure, love for love, gossip for gossip, peace for peace. Love never fails, love heals—and maybe that is just what is needed in the situation, healing love.
“Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling” (1 John 2:10).