Judge Righteous Judgment

Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24).

We’ve each done it. We look, observe, put all the pieces of someone’s life together, and then cast judgment without knowing all of the facts. We instruct others, give unwanted advice and then offer insensitive counsel without knowing all the facts. We rebuke, reprove, and reprimand someone’s behavior without knowing all of the facts. And we often share our false judgment and clouded opinion with others who are not part of the problem or the solution.

There is certainly a proper place for judgment based on sound doctrine. There is a place for “reproof” and “instruction in righteousness” but we must be very discerning and cautious if we choose to offer counsel and words of advice based on our judgment. Remember, there have been others in history who have attempted to help God out, but offered erroneous and harmful words of advice that resulted in receiving God’s wrath.  “And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath” (Job 42:7).

The scripture admonishes and warns us to “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment”. When we observe someone’s tired countenance, irritable disposition, or negative attitude, we do not fully know the underlying causes. We think we do, but we don’t. We do not have all of the facts involved in someone’s visible discouragement, depression, defeat, or despondency. We do not know why someone is not upbeat, chipper, and cheerful. We do not understand why they can’t be like we are. If some of us had met King David during his low points of life without knowing what the scripture says of him, we would assume he was a man far removed from the ways of God and certainly not qualified him as a man anointed by God to be King of Israel.

We have no right to assume they have forsaken the Lord and His word. We have no right to assume they have stopped praying. It is wrong to assume they are not growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. It is wrong to assume they have kindled some internal rebellion against God. And it’s wrong to assume their focus is on self and their problem and not the Lord. This subject is close to me. Wrong judgment and thoughtless criticism has happened to my wife who is my primary caregiver—24/7. I do not expect, or even long for, others to truly know what she does for me every day (as well as many nights), but when someone “judges” the behavior of my loyal and loving wife based on the way things “appear” instead of making “righteous” judgment, my God-given protective senses kick into high gear. I must walk in the Spirit and not the flesh in order to avoid resentment, bitterness, and the need to “get back” at them.

If you are married, you can only “try” to imagine what my wife has experienced every single day for the past 5 years by caring for me. You can “try” to imagine the natural emotional challenges she faces as she watches the man she loves (and has been married to for 26 years) change from day to day with no hopeful prognosis of things ever improving. You can “try” to imagine the normal physical stress related to caring for your spouse each day. You can even boast of “understanding” because you care, or have cared, for your spouse. But be honest, it’s not exactly the same is it? You can “try

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” but you’ll not understand unless you’re in her shoes.

For this brief moment, I want you to enter into the life of a caregiver by thinking about what an average, healthy person does in the course of just one day. Eat, drink, and use the restroom. Shave, brush your teeth, brush your hair, and use the restroom. Sit, stand, and use the restroom. Think. I require her assistance with everything. Getting in and out of my wheelchair and getting in and out of bed. Her rest is often disturbed at 3 A.M. because she needs to reposition my body or rub my aching legs. Every day. 24/7. I am not gainfully employed and never will be. Do you feel any fear? Perhaps some anxiety? Is it depressing? Are you a little bit discouraged? Are you asking why this is happening to you? Are you glad it’s not you? How do suppose you would be holding up?

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This is not a whining complaint or a pouting session. I’m certainly not seeking sympathy or someone’s shoulder to cry on. I am not murmuring against my merciful Heavenly Father who sometimes orchestrates, and certainly allows our trials in life to exist. I have not lost courage, confidence, or contentment in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paula and I are both closer to each other and to the Lord more than ever before as a result of “our” suffering. Although a lot about our future remains uncertain, we trust God. “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” We also know and understand that God is not finished writing the chapters and painting the canvas of our lives.

So before you size-up another person’s problem and try to fix it. Before you judge their attitude, disposition, or character flaws and assume they need your wise counsel. Stop and realize that you probably don’t know everything. It is probably wise to simply listen and not try to fix the problem. It is prudent to first “believe the best” instead of assuming the worst.

By the way, did I fail to mention that I speak from personal experience? God has used the severity of a trial to strip away my critical and judgmental spirit. He has softened my heart so He can mold me into the image of Christ. He has replaced harshness with compassion and tenderheartedness.

Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:6).

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