In our reading this week, we see the Pharisees doing a lot of judging. They judge Jesus in Chapter 7. And in chapter 8 they judge a woman taken in adultery.
Both times Jesus rebukes them. Why?
Our culture would say that it is because no one has the right to judge another. However, that is not what the Bible teaches. There are many instances where judgment is necessary.
Jesus actually rebukes them for not doing it the right way. Not judging righteously.
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Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. John 7:24
In both instances we learn some things about how to judge righteous judgment. And what to do…before…we judge.
In chapter 7 the Pharisees judge Jesus for healing a man on the sabbath…working on the sabbath. Jesus points out that they themselves also work on the sabbath. They perform circumcision on the sabbath whenever the eighth day from birth falls on the sabbath.
The Pharisees were judging Jesus by the letter of the law, while judging themselves by the intent, or the spirit, of the law.
Don’t we all do that? We judge ourselves much less harshly than we judge others.
We judge ourselves by our intentions, but we judge others by their actions.Stephen R. Covey
So, before you judge…get the facts.
Ask yourself—Is my judgment right, fair, just? Would I expect others to judge me the same way in this situation?
Do I know all the facts? Or am I judging based on what I see…the appearance?
In order to judge righteous judgment, we must dig deeper and seek the truth of the matter, glean all the facts we possibly can. Things aren’t always what they seem. (Proverbs 14:12)
And whenever possible that includes going directly to the person(s) involved to give them the opportunity to give their explanation of events.
Here in John chapter 7 the Pharisees meet to discuss the problem of Jesus. One of them, Nicodemus, speaks up and asks—
Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth? John 7:51
Nicodemus reminds them that it is only right to let a man answer for himself before judgment is passed upon him.
Our willingness to ignore this step in making judgments is what gives gossip—unrighteous judgment—its power.
To me, one of the most maddening things in life is to be judged unfairly and to have someone believe something about me that simply is not true. And that could have been explained had the person come to me and actually sought truth!
How many friendships could have been saved had this step been followed?
So, before you judge…ask.
Instead of making a snap judgment, go to the person involved. And just ask. Don’t accuse. Ask.
Before you judge…make sure your own heart is right.
Ask yourself—Is my heart open to the Spirit to guide me into the truth of His Word and of this situation?
Or am I already angry and/or biased?
The Pharisees are so blinded by their sins of jealousy and hatred and anger that they cannot see the truth. Or else, they just refuse to acknowledge it. They taunt Nicodemus when he speaks up.
They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet. John 7:52
Yet this statement is false. Again, it is important to know the Truth and be submitted to it in order to judge rightly. The prophets Jonah and Nahum were from Galilee. Jonah was of Gath-hepher of Galilee; and Nahum was an Elkoshite of Galilee. (Matthew Henry Commentary)
Because their goal was not truth in judgment, but rather protection of their own power and prestige, these Pharisees judged Jesus unrighteously and remained blinded to the truth of just Who Jesus is—their Messiah!
The Pharisees again judge unrighteously in Chapter 8 when they bring to Jesus a woman taken in adultery. From this account we learn one more thing to do…before…we judge.
Before you judge…determine your intent for judging.
Ask yourself—In this situation, is my goal restoration and unity?
Is the Spirit’s meekness guiding me? (2 Timothy 2:25)
Our goal or aim in judgment must be restoration. And unity.
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Galatians 6:1
We are to restore. Not judge.
Love. Not judge.
Righteous judgment, with restoration, is clearly not the intent of the Pharisees here in Chapter 8. They weren’t interested in Truth, or keeping the law. Or they would have also brought the man this woman sinned with! They didn’t care about this woman or the law. They only wanted to find fault with Jesus. (John 8:6)
Jesus responds to them—
He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. John 8:7
Jesus’ heart and goal for this woman was her restoration. He tells her in verse 11—after the conviction of their consciences caused the Pharisees to leave—
Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more. John 8:11b
An Unknown Author wrote—
We can judge others or we can love others—but we cannot do both at the same time.
I believe that if we tried to understand the why behind the actions, maybe we’d judge less harshly at times. Maybe we’d realize that but for the grace of God, I’d be in their shoes.
That understanding can’t lead us to call wrong right…but it can give us the desire to help and restore, instead of condemn. Jesus didn’t excuse the woman’s sin. He called it sin as He instructed her to “go and sin no more.” But He had compassion and did not condemn.
Thomas A Kempis gives us this warning about judging others—
Judge yourself and beware of passing judgement on others. In judging others we expend our energy to no purpose; we are often mistaken and easily sin. But if we judge ourselves our labour is always to our profit.
Father, help us judge righteous judgment and begin with our own hearts and lives. Help us see others through Your eyes of love and compassion. And help us more often to give the benefit of the doubt, just as we hope others would do for us. Help us look beneath the surface of the facts to seek to understand the pain, heartaches, losses, and lives of others that we may, when necessary, judge with compassion and the intent to restore to You.
Drawing nigh to Him,
LET’S TALK ABOUT IT
Have you ever been unfairly accused? How did you handle it? What lessons has God taught you about judging others?