The first Bible verse I ever memorized was John 7:24, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” Boy, I needed that verse. I had come to believe in God in the previous few months, after very nearly dying and not going to heaven. So I knew from experienced that God was real. And I knew that the Devil was real. But I hadn’t at that time become a Christian as I just didn’t know who Jesus was. But I began to read the Bible vociferously because I knew it was the book that told about the God I’d come to find was real.
I’d been so horribly misjudging so many things at that time. I think that’s the reason that God put that verse into my mind and heart right then because I really needed to look at things differently and judge things differently. But when you think about it, the whole idea of judgment is not a real popular concept nowadays, whether you’re a believer or not.
When they think of judgment, so many Christians immediately remember what Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged”. (Matthew 7:1) And so they get the idea that we’re to just sort of acquiesce and go along with almost anything since, “We aren’t to judge.” Hmm. And then the atheists and agnostics often feel that there’s no right or wrong anyway, no good or bad, no truth. So “judgment” just becomes almost a bad word.
Is that really how it should be? Don’t we all make judgments all the time? Every decision you make is in some ways a judgment, based on your values, your information, your ethics and your interests. So actually we’re all making judgments and we have to.
Jesus said plainly in that verse He put into my heart that we’re to “judge righteous judgment”. But what is “righteous”? Here the believer and the unbeliever may go different directions. A believer will know that righteousness is found in God and the unbeliever hardly even believes in any kind of righteousness since “Who are we to judge?”
But the Bible often says that we are to judge, not in a self-righteous way but in a Godly way, on His foundation, with His eyes of mercy and truth. Paul told the Corinthians, “Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Don’t you know that we shall judge angels? How much more the things that pertain to this life.” (I Corinthians 6: 2 & 3)
Jesus even said of Himself, “My judgment is just; because I don’t seek My own will, but the will of the Father which has sent Me.” (John 5:30) Maybe that’s a secret or key. If we are not seeking our own will or way but are seeking God’s way and His best, then our views and judgments can be more aligned with God’s love and justice. That way, our judgment on maters big or small will be moving towards the “righteous judgment” He wants us to have.
James, “the Lord’s brother” (Galatians 1:19), had some important things to say about this. “So speak and so do as those who shall be judged by the law of liberty. For He shall have judgment without mercy to those who’ve shown no mercy. And mercy rejoices against judgment,” (James 2: 12 &13). Merciful judgment. It all comes back to a loving God, a loving Savior, a pleading, interceding Holy Spirit, all moving in us to be wise and merciful in our judgments, whether they be tiny daily decisions or our most major “affairs of this life.” (Proverbs 4:23)
Jesus reproved the Pharisees because they were so busy with tiny details like tithing their spices and had “omitted the weightier matters of the law: judgment, mercy and faith,” (Matthew 23:23) We are called on to judge righteous judgment, judgment with mercy, led by God’s wisdom and Word. And like Paul said in that verse above, it’s even going to be a part of our job in the world to come. So Lord help us all to judge righteous judgment, to be basing all we do on His foundation of truth and love and to be learning now in this lifetime to see things through His eyes, so we’ll make the best decisions and to be examples to others of His loving justice and judgment.