Judge Not? (3)
“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” John 7.24
Preparing for judgment
Jesus’ teaching is straightforward and unequivocal: Whenever judging or judgment is required, we must judge with righteous judgment.
No one can avoid judging and making judgments, whether in the form of approving one thing and disapproving another, choosing this over that, or deciding on matters of right and wrong or propriety and impropriety. All our actions and words, in a very real sense, are merely expressions of the judgment we make in our souls.
Christians must strive to see that all our judging and judgments are righteous, for so our Lord has commanded.But such judging and judgment does not come naturally to us. Knowing what we must do – and that we cannot escape or avoid what we must do – we would be unwise notto prepare ourselves to judge with righteous judgment.
God has made us in His image and likeness, with the works of His Law engraved on our hearts (Rom. 2.14, 15), so that we might judge with righteous judgment. But the law of sin, that lingers even in the hearts of those who believe in Jesus (Rom. 7.21-23), clouds our judgments, so that we must relearn the criteria of righteous judgment if we are to be prepared for this important work.
God has not left us alone in this task. He has called us to it, and He will do it in and through us (1 Thess. 5.24). He has given us His Holy Spirit to dwell in us and to guide us into all truth. The Spirit teaches us the holy and righteous and good Law of God, and He empowers us to carry out all that we are learning and that our salvation requires (Ezek. 36.26, 27; Phil. 2.12, 13).
Further, we have the Word of God, which is able to equip us for every good work (2 Tim. 3.15-17), and the example of righteous forebears and the encouragement of holy peers to guide and instruct us (Rom. 15.4; Heb. 10.24). The creation around us bears continuous witness to the glory of the Lord, and we are ever in His presence (Ps. 19.1-4; Matt. 28.20).
Most of all we have Jesus, the righteous One, exalted in glory and ruling at the right hand of the Father. By setting our minds and hearts on Him, we may be increasingly transformed into His image, and thus become more consistent in judging with righteous judgment (Col. 3.1-3; 2 Cor. 3.12-18).
We have no shortage of resources to help us in fulfilling Jesus’ instructions. But it’s one thing to have those resources available, and quite another to make consistent and proper useof them.
How can we do that?
Know the Lord
Becoming like our Lord Jesus, so that He and His righteousness increase in us, is a work of the revelation and the Spirit of God. But for these to bear fruit, we must pursue knowing the Lord diligently:
Let us know,
Let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD.
His going forth is established as the morning;
He will come to us like the rain,
Like the latter and former rain to the earth. Hosea 6.3
We must pursue knowing the Lord by seeking Him along all the avenues where He cries out with wisdom to us (Prov. 8.1-6).
Jesus speaks to us in His Word, of course; and we must be diligent to pursue Him there. We will not increase in the righteousness of Jesus apart from reading, studying, and meditating on His Word. We must “search the Scriptures daily” to discover Jesus, radiating out at us as from a mirror, delivering us from our old ways into the righteousness of His Kingdom and glory (Acts 17.9; Jms. 1.22-25). Our time in the Word must be like Jacob, wrestling the angel, as we refuse to let God go until He blesses us with His presence and power. He may wound our selfishness and weigh heavily upon us in many ways, but such pains as we may endure will only result in blessing.
But we must also learn to know that Lord as He reveals Himself in the morning of a new day, the rains that come as gifts from Him, and all the myriad other ways He is shining forth in the things He has made (Prov. 25.2). We would be fools, driving down a highway under construction, not to pay careful attention to the many signs and directions posted by the highway department to facilitate our safe journey. Similarly, we are fools not to pay attention to the many ways Jesus makes Himself known to us throughout the day. We are a work of increasing righteousness in progress, and the Lord is continually with us, showing us His wisdom, goodness, beauty, truth, and guiding us into His righteousness by the things He has made.
Hosea’s exhortation to pursue the Lord carries a degree of urgency and importance that we must not ignore. It is not enough to putz around in the Scriptures, merely to fulfill some sense of obligation or duty, or to give mere lip service to the revelation of God in His world. These two books of divine revelation are an inexhaustible gold mine of the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Would you loll around at the entrance of a mine, rich with precious gems and metals, all promised to be ready for you to dig out and cash in each day? Nor should we do anything other than dig deeply into the Word of God – all the counsel of God in Scripture, including His Law – and the creation around us, to discover Jesus there (Jn. 5.39) and to learn from Him the righteousness we need for judging with righteous judgment.
God intends to judge the world in righteousness, and to employ His people for this great and awesome task (Ps. 99.4). But to fulfill this calling and to judge with righteous judgment, so that the shalom of God is manifest in all we do, we need to press on in knowing the Lord Jesus. The righteousness we need is from Him (Phil. 1.9), and He is making Himself known in His Word and His world. Let us make pursuing the Lord the highest priority and the most important discipline of every day.
1. Are you putzing around in divine revelation or mining its riches daily? Explain.
2. Looking ahead to your day, where do you need to be ready to judge with righteous judgment? How should you prepare for this?
3. How can you make sure your participation in Bible study groups is preparing you to judge with righteous judgment?
Next steps – Transformation: Take stock of your pursuit of the Lord. Where can you improve to become more earnest in knowing Him?
T. M. Moore
Forward today’s ReVision to a friend and encourage your friend to subscribe.
This week’s study is part 2 of a 4-part series, To Judge the World. Each part consists of seven lessons and is available as a free PDF download at the end of the study. In the tag for part 7, we’ll give you a link to download part 2, Judge Not?
An excellent companion to this series is our book, The Ground for Christian Ethics. Here you’ll discover the basis on which Christians learn to judge with righteous judgment. You can order a copy by clicking here.And when you order, we’ll send you a free copy of Bricks and Rungs: Poems on Calling.
If you value ReVision as a free resource for your walk with the Lord, please consider supporting our work with your gifts and offerings. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.
- T.M. Moore
- October 31, 2018
Jesus commands it; we must prepare for it.
Judge Not? (3)
T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.