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What the Bible says about Judging According to Appearance
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Isaiah 11:1-5

Jesus will not judge according to appearances. He will not pay attention to anecdotal evidence or rumors. Jesus, filled with the Spirit of God, can judge on the basis of true knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

Staff
Basic Doctrines: Eternal Judgment

Matthew 7:1

Some cite Matthew 7:1 as proof that we should do no judging whatsoever: "Judge not, that you be not judged." Here, the Greek word for "judge" is krino, meaning to condemn, avenge, sentence, or levy a punishment. Christ plainly says that if we condemn others, we will be condemned ourselves. Dangerous territory indeed!

Though it is certainly hazardous to evaluate the problems or sins of others, the context answers the question of whether we are to do so. We are to judge and in every aspect of life, as other scriptures show. Christ continues His thought, in context, by showing that we are to evaluate the deeds of others, but to be very careful with our judgments. We should consider our weaknesses and sins very carefully, to the point of overcoming them, before we make harsh judgments on others. How can we condemn someone else when we may have even bigger problems? He instructs us to remove the hypocrisy and then we can help our brother with his difficulties.

Focusing on the Greek to show that "condemning" defines judgment better than "justice" really makes no difference. The sense of the context is proper evaluation of our own and others' conduct so that proper justice is done. If we wish to use a harsher definition, such as condemnation or damnation, then Christ is saying He will also evaluate us in that light. Major or minor infraction, light or harsh judgment, the outcome is the same: "As you do unto others, so shall it be done unto you!"

Christ's initial statement about judgment cannot be ripped out of context to stand on its own. We must understand it considering His whole explanation, which includes recognition of others' sins and their disposition, but only after overcoming our own faults.

Otherwise, Matthew 7:1 directly contradicts John 7:24 where He uses the same Greek words: "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge [krino] with righteous judgment." Here He says we are to judge, but He mitigates it with instruction on how to judge, just as in Matthew 7. Certainly, we are to analyze—judge—what is right or wrong, based on the mind of God as expressed in His Word. How we apply that judgment to others is critical, for Christ will take the same attitude with us that we take with others.

Like it or not, life forces us to make judgments or decisions about people every day. These may deal with mundane physical things or with friendships or marriages that affect a lifetime. Many have gone through life wishing they had been equipped early in life to render and exercise sounder judgments, for the process of making good calls can be very confusing. It is so easy to dwell on the wrong factors or see only what is on the surface.

Staff
The Weightier Matters (Part 2): Judgment

Matthew 7:3-5

Jesus gives us practical instruction on this matter of judging. In a word, we are unqualified. We are not qualified to make these judgments. Setting ourselves up to judge another—even to "help" him in whatever problem he may have—is self-exalting, proud, presumptuous, vain (in terms both of vanity and futility), and as Jesus says, hypocritical because we are guilty of the same problems. In fact, He implies that our problems are worse! They are planks versus specks in the other person's eye.

The great overriding problem here is that it arrogates to ourselves a prerogative of God. He is the Judge. What are we doing taking one of His jobs from Him? In James 4:12, the apostle asks, "Who are you to judge another?" It sounds rather harsh to hear it put that way. "Who are you to take upon yourself the authority to judge this other person?" He says in verse 11, "He who speaks evil of his brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law." That is what happens when we take it upon ourselves to judge another person.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
What's So Bad About Busybodies?

Romans 2:1-3

The apostle Paul comments on the hypocrisy that often occurs when judging others. This is a clear explanation of Jesus' illustration of a man with a plank in his eye critically pointing out the speck in someone else's (Matthew 7:3-5)!

In the original Greek, "inexcusable" in Romans 2:1 is literally "defenseless." In the spiritual court of law, there is no defense for the actions of a person who commits the same sin of which he accuses another. An interesting aspect of this appears when we understand a more thorough meaning of the word "practice" (prassoo) that occurs later in the verse. It means to perform repeatedly or habitually, to do exactly. We can infer from this that Paul means these accusers have not only committed the particular sin before but are also continuing to commit it!

We cannot properly assess what a righteous standard is if we use others or ourselves—fallible human beings—as the standard. True judgment is according to the truth of God. Paul makes this very point in the next verse: "But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things" (Romans 2:2).

God's righteous judgment is based on truth. This means that His decisions are reached based on reality, on the facts of the case, not on appearances or intentions. It also means He judges without partiality to rank, wealth, station, or position. Finally, it means that He judges against an authoritative and unchanging standard: His own character as revealed in His Word.

Judging our lives according to how others live is a sure way to neglect and ignore serious problems in our own lives. Continuing in verse 3, Paul writes, "And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?" God pronounces judgment on those who make a practice of indulging in sin. The apostle makes it quite certain that all sin will be judged. No one will "get away with it."

Some, indulging in self-praise, write their own testimonials to promote themselves because they are full of impatient pride, unable to wait for the acknowledgment and praise of others for their accomplishments. In their own foolishness, these people try to establish their own conduct as the norm and then find great satisfaction in always measuring up to the standard that they have set.

Martin G. Collins
Comparing Ourselves Among Ourselves


 




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