One of Roy’s greatest gifts to the Church was and is his revelations and understanding about judgement and judging.
This is a topic that God has been bringing to fruition in me over many years. It has made me realise this life we live in Christ is a journey into maturity and there are many hurdles to overcome. Pride at how well we think we are doing being one! As Paul, and the writer of Hebrews taught us in 1 Cor 3:2, and Heb 5:12 respectively.
1 Corinthians 3:2 New International Version - UK (NIVUK)
2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.
Hebrews 5:12 New International Version - UK (NIVUK)
12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!
For all of us there comes a time for solids, or more meaty stuff, but are we ready for it? Getting to the core of understanding all the fullness of Jesus’ teaching about judging, or more accurately not judging, has been just such a journey for me. Milk, meat, and back to the milk again, to get the life changing revelation and foundational understanding right. The great thing is even this journeying to and fro bears much fruit along the way, and as maturity and understanding develop through God’s grace (and not our own understanding), it becomes and produces good fruit that will last.
Jesus’ teaching about judging others in Matthew 7
1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Judging others from James 4
11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgement on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbour?
Judging others from Luke 6
37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
It seems not judging, and forgiving in some respects are very closely allied. So how do they intertwine for good, and how do their opposites of judging and unforgiveness produce so much bad fruit not only in this age but in the age to come?
First of all let’s understand what we are talking about by using two examples of judging as appropriate from our English language use and interpretation of the word. When we use the word as it was intended in Jesus’ teaching my best analogy is to think of a court room.
There is a Judge and it is his or her job to judge on the evidence as it is presented in the court, and to make a decision on that evidence alone, and no other. I'm so glad I do not have to judge as a Judge does. If I did I can only judge on the information that is available to the court, and my understanding of it, and the judgement I reach has to be as prescribed under law combined with the law of precedents. (A judicial precedent is a decision of the court used as a source for future decision making. This is known as ‘stare decisis’ (to stand upon decisions) and by which precedents are authoritative and binding and must be followed.) When Jesus says do not judge, he is saying to us that we have no right to pass judgement on our fellow man. One reason being, we don’t have all the facts!
This is not to be confused with knowing a fact. If you saw a person stab another person to death, you know what you saw! Or maybe you know what you think you saw, or even believe you saw. If you go beyond what you saw, you may slide into the kind of judgement that Jesus said ‘do not’!
It is also a disturbing thought that as man’s understanding (which we must not rely on) grows we gather what we see, hear and feel and our minds put together a picture of what it best understands, it then fills in the gaps according to how it interprets the situation. Our brain can do this in a trillionth of a second. This is very disturbing and gives huge credibility to why Jesus and others spoke so strongly about not judging. What my brain believes or thinks it saw has become not a matter of fact but of available information to my senses, augmented and interpreted by my mind, and added to by my world view, prejudices, and opinions. Because of the brilliant way our minds work, we can process and reach conclusions very quickly that are probably very helpful, but are not always entirely factual or true. We get it wrong! Sometimes we get it wrong even when we are absolutely sure we are right! Just think of some of the decisions you see made by referees on football fields! They sometimes have to make, and act on many judgements a minute and resolve that they are right... until the TV replay is looked at later!
The kind of judgement that Jesus was teaching us we should not do was to pronounce our own idea of someone’s guilt, and in our hearts or minds pass sentence, or assign a label or blame to another person as a result; or be prejudiced against them, whether we do this openly or in the secrecy of our hearts or minds! Judging and passing sentence ultimately is Jesus’ job, and one day He will judge all of us, including judging us for our judging of others! He will be bound by His righteousness to honour His Word and love of us, and use the measure that we used on others, on us! By the measure that we use it will be measured to us! This is a serious issue especially for us in the Body of Christ.
1 Peter 4:17 King James Version (KJV)
17 For the time is come that judgement must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
There is one other use of the word judgement in our English language but to which Jesus was not referring and that is the kind of judgements we have to make thousands of times every day which do not involve judging others, assigning guilt or blame. For example:-
Can I jump this stream? The answer you come to is a judgment at this stage. It will govern whether you have a go or not. This is not what Jesus was talking about when he said ‘do not judge’.
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgements, and his paths beyond tracing out!
To judge as Jesus will one day judge in righteousness and truth is such a great and wonderful thing. If I am to be judged, above all else I will know His judgement is in the light of every fact, and is righteous and fair. His judgement requires complete knowledge about everything that in any way will impact on the situation he is judging, including the one being judged and their attitude to judging others! Things known and unknown to man - all will be considered and weighed. What a judgement, and everyone will not only know the outcome, but see that justice was done.
I lead a men’s ministry in our Chapel here in Shropshire, England. It’s called ‘Wild at Heart Boot Camp’ for men and is based on John Eldredge’s book ‘Wild at Heart’. When we touch on this subject of judging, I often find myself saying ‘Who am I to judge? No matter how much I know, I’ll never know enough to know what I need to know, to know I'm making a fair and righteous judgement! Never! I must not rely on my own understanding.’ How dare I presume to judge another on any topic or issue? I must resolve in my heart to never judge another. I must always allow grace to abound, give the benefit of the doubt, realise I may have done the exact same thing if I had lived in their shoes. Can I extend grace, love, kindness, forgiveness, mercy and tolerance of their humanity? Would I like to receive those things for my errors? Can I ‘do unto others as I would like them to do unto me’? Luke 6:31 and Matthew 7:12. As we show our love and grace to someone who may have done something wrong and inwardly may be racked with guilt, it may open the very door through which they can come and find freedom and forgiveness in Jesus.
If that be true, then how can I live without judging my brother, sister, neighbour, enemy, or a person of another faith? How often when trying to evangelise do we start from a place of prejudicial judgement? When the truth is we are just talking to people who have not received the revelation of God through Jesus and His Holy Spirit in their hearts yet! There but for the grace of God go I. Even so, He loves them to bits. What he wants us to do is “be” a witness for Him and His ways, and show His love, kindness, humility, gentleness, compassion, and the invitation to come unto Him (Matt 11:28). We have opportunity to share what has so graciously been given and revealed to us, by offering it to them. Freely we have received, now freely give. (Matt 10:8).
Jesus commanded his disciples in John 13-34:35,
“34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Can we come to the lost and the searching and even the misguided, and deceived with such love as this? In 2 Tim 2 it says
24 ‘And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.’
I guess the big question is, do I have what it takes to live this life without judging others? I’ll be frank. I don’t think I could in my own strength, but if Christ lives in me, surely I can do all things through Him who strengthens me! Apart from Him I can do nothing!
How is that going for me so far? I'm making progress. He is changing me and my understanding. I'm aware that the further God takes me, the more there is to do, but the easier it is to do it. The great thing is as I'm moving forward life is becoming more joyful, happy, fulfilled, and I hope more honouring to Him. It’s a journey, and we need to press on towards the goal that God in Christ has called us heavenward… Paraphrase Phil 3:14.
One of the things God has called my wife, Sue, and I to is training and application. So here goes:
Once I got the core of not letting myself go to judgement, I needed some help from Jesus, and he gave me a way to stand, and having stood to stand. If I am being attacked, abused, or see a situation that I instinctively leap to judgement about, I'm learning that in that instant I can resolve to not take offence, or go to judgement. In my mind, in an instant I say to myself “Water off a ducks back!” In other words, no matter how offensive or blatant someone’s behaviour may be towards meI chose not to let it into my heart (I guard my heart) therefore I do not need to be offended! Secondly, I will not judge them as I don’t know anything about them, and my understanding is flawed to the extent that Scripture tells me not rely on it! In this position several things are possible:-
- I can keep the conversation going with the Holy Spirit. (If I act out of offence, counter attack, accuse or defend, I am instituting my own plan to save myself in this situation, when in Truth, I already have a Saviour who is ready, willing and able to do immeasurably more than I can ever hope or imagine. A Saviour not only of me, but who also would love to be the Saviour of the person attacking me!) This is mega. In this condition I am available to Jesus to be used in any way he chooses. If I’m saving myself through my wilful decision, he honours my free will and steps back!
- I can now say OK Jesus, with you I’m safe to listen without reacting and to hear without taking it to heart. What do you want me to do? He will give me gifts of patience, humility and peace. My body language will display kindness, gentleness and compassion.
- I am now part of the solution and not part of the problem. The grace of God is in play, I can bring many gifts from God into this situation (and who knows where it may go). I may even become their greatest friend, hear their story and lead them to Jesus. I have guarded my heart, and it has remained the wellspring of LIFE!
You may have some further revelation and understanding of how to apply the above to your life on a daily basis, overcoming the enemy’s desire that you should be judging others and accusing others as he does day and night!
When we are doing things God’s way, God will use us and give a word of knowledge or wisdom which has the power to unzip this whole stronghold and see it come crashing down. It is not our job to understand the ‘word’ we know is from God. It is OK to ask Him, ‘what do I do with this Lord?’ He may say hold it, or share it, or something else. It may be the key to open the door for this person to the Kingdom of Heaven. We can use it as directed by the Lord without making a judgement about what it means or why, that’s not our business. For example, we speak it out at the right time in the right way and the person shudders to a halt and bursts into floods of tears and asks, “How did you know about that?” and we can say, ‘I don’t know anything about that, it was just that that was the ‘word’ God spoke into my heart as we were talking’. To God be the Glory! By their fruit you will know, good or bad. Disciples or wolves! By our fruit let us be known... Please Lord let it be good fruit, and fruit that will last.
A personal prayer you might wish to say:. ‘Lord, deliver me from the spirit of judgment and the legalistic spirit which so often accompanies it. I break agreement with those spirits now and chose to renounce them in Jesus’ Name. Lord teach me to trust in You in all your ways, and not to rely on my own understanding, but in all my ways acknowledge You. I also chose to do my best to love one another as you have loved me (even my enemies and those who oppose me). Amen.’
To God be the Glory.