There is so much in the Bible instructing us not to judge others and at the same time there is much in the Bible instructing us on how to judge others righteously, even warning us that we need to be able to look to the fruit to understand if we should avoid someone. Sorting out what is good judgement and what is sinful can be a challenge. Praise God He has given us His Word to guide us!
I have come to believe that one of the worst attacks on the truth is the weakening of the language. For example, my understanding is that our word ‘judge’ is translated from 20 different original words. Imagine all the instructive contextual meaning that was lost in this mashup. It is then up to us to investigate the difference between attempting to judge the heart and motive of another and discriminating between the truth and a lie, or put another way, between life giving righteousness and sin that leads to death.
Today’s reading: 2 Samuel 10; 2 Corinthians 3; Ezekiel 17; Psalms 60–61
After this the king of the Ammonites died, and Hanun his son reigned in his place. And David said, “I will deal loyally with Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father dealt loyally with me.” So David sent by his servants to console him concerning his father. And David’s servants came into the land of the Ammonites. But the princes of the Ammonites said to Hanun their lord, “Do you think, because David has sent comforters to you, that he is honoring your father? Has not David sent his servants to you to search the city and to spy it out and to overthrow it?” So Hanun took David’s servants and shaved off half the beard of each and cut off their garments in the middle, at their hips, and sent them away. – 2 Samuel 10:1-4
It is sad to read the rest of the account and how this terrible misjudgment lead to war. I’m sure there are many more lessons to learn from this, here are a two that jumped out at me:
- Be careful who you lend your ear to, from whom you take your advice. Instead of a righteous judgement in truth: perhaps considering the question, “is it a good thing that David sent comforters?”, the suspicious questions Hanun received from his advisors were aimed directly at David’s motives. And they missed by a mile.
- Do not judge motives. Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1) But again, what is the difference in judging and discerning? The Bible warns us again and again that judging others comes with heavy and dire consequences as does not discriminating. God please help us get this right.
If you are looking for answers to understanding the difference between sinful and righteous judgment, I recently listened to a sermon called Stop Criticizing that I would recommend. It was part of a series called Mishandled: Setting the Record Straight on Frequently Abused Bible Verses. It is on judging and worked from Jesus’s teaching on human relations from His Sermon on the Mount, while also taking a comprehensive look at the Scripture as it relates to this subject.