Before we begin, I want to invite you to go back and look at the previous installments if you haven’t already. Although each of the lessons can stand alone, the are built upon the lessons that came before. I was supposed to start a section on envy and jealousy, but I am having a serious case of writer’s block which either means I’m not supposed to cover that yet or God is dealing with things in my own heart and is teaching me something and I need to learn that first. So, instead we will take a look at judgments first and then come back to envy and jealousy in a few weeks. So, without any further delay, let’s dive into the subject of judgments.
There are very few words that that evoke a sense of finality like the word “judgment.” Like the word “death,” it is final. Someone in authority has made the determination that someone else is guilty of ____________ <fill in the blank>. That someone could be a judge in our legal system, it could be God, or it could be you. Yes, it could be you. When a judge makes a judgment, it is based upon the law and it is presumed that both sides of the argument or case were heard and a fair judgment was rendered. When God judges it is based upon His righteousness and the knowledge of the whole truth for he knows the thoughts and intents of men’s hearts. However, when we judge, it’s a different story. We have made ourselves the authority and we generally don’t care about the full truth because we know the truth from our side and that’s all that matters. This “truth” from our side may simply be the color of one’s skin, or their gender, or their culture, or the schools they attended. Whatever it is, they ARE guilty. They are guilty because YOU say so. You may judge someone as being stupid simply because their skin is black or their hair is blonde. You may fear for your life when a person of color is just walking behind you. You may be a person of color and not trust a white doctor and actually feel fearful of them. These are all examples of judgments that we hold in our hearts. Here’s the deal about judgments:
- In general, they didn’t form yesterday (although they could).
- They generally formed long before you started acting on them or saying things because of them.
- They don’t go away easily, but they CAN go away.
We generally form judgments because of hurts, wounds and traumas we have experienced with other people. But they can also form because of religious tradition, family influences and training. We can hold judgments against an individual person, a group of people or an entire race of people. Today, we will be taking a look at what God says about them and how to get rid of them.
First of all, we make judgments all of the time. We all do. Not all judgments are bad either. Some are good and perhaps even God given. For example, you may ride with a friend on the freeway and discover this person is a really horrible driver that takes chances that nobody should take. Because of this, you decide to not let your kids go with this family to Disneyland. You have firsthand experience that this person is unsafe behind the wheel. You are judging their behavior behind that wheel and have determined that it is unsafe for your kids to go. This kind of judgment isn’t evil. You’re protecting your kids. At this point, you’re judging their behavior only. Now, if you take this further and proclaim that these people are criminals that want to kill your children and break off your relationship with them completely, now we’re talking about some evil judgments. You are judging the person, not the behavior. Judging the person is something left to God alone. We can judge behaviors, but not men’s hearts.
This brings us to our first kind of judgment. We’ll just call it ‘Simple Judgment’. We’ll call it that because it’s really simple and straight forward. Examples of this might be where someone is slow moving or perhaps makes a mistake with some basic arithmetic and you determine this person is stupid or “slow.” Just based upon this one interaction, you have condemned them to forever being “stupid.” This is wrong. You are judging the person. That same person who may not be a “math person,” may be an extraordinary musician or they may be a math genius that was just having a really bad day. You don’t know, because you haven’t taken the time to find out, owing to your judgment of the person.
These “Simple Judgments” are usually based upon outward appearances. In the example above, the person simply looked the part (slow moving or not calculating something accurately). I am reminded of David when he was anointed to be king. Let’s take a look at 1 Samuel 16:1-6.
1Samuel 16:1-6 And Jehovah said to Samuel, How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go. I will send you to Jesse of Bethlehem. For I have seen a king for Me among his sons. And Samuel said, How can I go? If Saul hears, he will kill me. And Jehovah said, Take a heifer of the herd in your hand with you and say, I have come to sacrifice to Jehovah. And call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do. And you shall anoint for Me whomever I name to you. And Samuel did what Jehovah said, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming and said, Do you come peaceably? And he said, Peaceably. I have come to sacrifice to Jehovah. Sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice. And he sanctified Jesse and his sons, and called them to the sacrifice. And it happened as they came in, he saw Eliab and said, Surely Jehovah’s anointed is before Jehovah.
There is much more to the story, but I wanted to stop here for a second. Look at that last verse. He saw Eliab and said, Surely Jehovah’s anointed is before Jehovah. He could have tuned the Lord out, dumped the oil on Eliab’s head and anointed him king. Everyone would have probably agreed. He looked kingly. He looked the part… He was judged to be “surely Jehovah’s anointed” and he would have been a HUGE disaster. Sadly, in way too many churches, this is the story. Somebody looks the part. They look anointed. Nobody even really checks seriously with God because obviously God sent this person to them. They are judging by mere outward appearances. People wonder why there are church splits, or why somebody in authority is having an affairs, etc? This is one big reason. Promotion based upon outward appearance rarely works. How many “Davids” are there, who are faithfully working in the background, unseen by many while they are quietly tending God’s flock in prayer, or out in the parking lot? Thankfully Samuel wasn’t like that. Lets read on.
1Samuel 16:7-12 But Jehovah said to Samuel, Do not look on his face, nor on his height, because I have refused him. For He does not see as man sees. For man looks on the outward appearance, but Jehovah looks on the heart. And Jesse called Abinadab, and he passed him before Samuel, but he said, Also Jehovah has not chosen this one. And Jesse passed Shammah by, but he said, Also Jehovah has not chosen this one. And Jesse passed seven of his sons before Samuel, but Samuel said to Jesse, Jehovah has not chosen these. And Samuel said to Jesse, Are all the young men here? And he said, There remains yet the youngest, and behold, he keeps the sheep. And Samuel said to Jesse, Send and bring him, for we will not sit down until he comes here. And he sent and brought him in. And he was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and good form. And Jehovah said, Arise, anoint him. For this is he and Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the spirit of Jehovah came on David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.
Samuel kept his ear tuned into the Lord. The Lord told him not to look at the man’s face or height. In other words, don’t look at outward appearances. God looks at the heart. Only David had a heart that was right in God’s eyes. The lesson here for those in any leadership position is to seek the Lord diligently before promoting anyone. Find out from God who has the right heart for the position and go with that.
Jesus had a few things to say about judgment also:
Matthew 7:1-5 Judge not, that you may not be judged. For with whatever judgment you judge, you shall be judged; and with whatever measure you measure out, it shall be measured to you again. And why do you look on the splinter that is in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the beam that is in your own eye? Or how will you say to your brother, Let me pull the splinter out of your eye; and, behold, a beam is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First cast the beam out of your own eye, and then you shall see clearly to cast the splinter out of your brother’s eye.
Look at those first two verses. My friend, Jesus is describing a spiritual law. It’s called sowing and reaping. Whatever you sow, you are going to also reap. If you sow judgment, you are going to reap judgment. It may not be today and it may not be tomorrow, but you will reap judgment against you. Perhaps there has been a time where you judged someone harshly who may have been trying to help you in some way. Perhaps they were someone in authority that was trying to bring correction in some way. Then sometime later, you are the one in authority and you find yourself in the exact same situation or something strikingly similar and you have to make the same decision about someone else as that person you judged had to make about you… and then it hits you. This is what that authority figure was doing with you. My friend judge not, lest you be judged.
The splinter is those things you are judging your brother about. The beam are the judgments you are holding in your own heart. Which is worse? Jesus could have put those in some equivalent scale such as splinter vs splinter or beam vs beam, but He didn’t. The splinter in your brother’s eye is NOTHING compared to the BEAM in your own eye/heart. The message is clear. Your judgments, those held closely in your own heart are infinitely worse than whatever is going on in your brother. Jesus’ instructions are clear as well. First cast the beam out of your own eye. Notice, this isn’t really a suggestion. He calls you a hypocrite for not doing it. You must rid YOURSELF of these judgments. You must take them to the Lord in prayer and repent for holding onto them. You must ask forgiveness for holding onto these things.
John 7:24 Do not judge according to sight, but judge righteous judgment.
Because righteous judgment is given in contrast to judging by sight, it is safe to say the answer lies not in what is or can be seen, but what is unseen which is the heart. So how do we judge that which is unseen? Then answer is, we don’t. We pray and we seek God’s wisdom about a person or an activity with a person. In lieu of this, we can only judge actions from scripture to determine if some activity is right or not. But we don’t judge the person. Jesus said “I judge no man.” (John 8:15) So, we shouldn’t either. We can judge someone’s actions without actually judging the person. We can judge that someone isn’t the safest driver (actions) without judging the actual person. When we cross over to this person is too stupid to drive, etc. Now we’re judging the person.
Are you holding on to judgments against someone, or a group of people such as a company that you worked for perhaps a church? Take a moment and ask God to show you. If so, then ask for his help and then repent for each one that he shows you.
Next time we’re going to look deeper into this subject and we’re going to be discussing what I think may be the biggest plague ever unleashed upon the human race. That is “Bitter Root Judgments” and it’s even more evil companion, “Bitter Root Expectations.” Until then, may God’s richest blessing be yours in Christ.