Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
Contrary to the unqualified unconditional “judge not” spiritual posture that characterizes most Christian teaching ministry today, the Lord expects His People to be a people of judgment. Jesus specifically teaches us to “judge righteous judgment” and to first “see clearly” before we pull a “mote” out of another brother’s eye (7:5).
My point today however is not to defend the obligation to judge or to more carefully distinguish the difference between making evaluations versus passing sentences. It is rather to shed more light on what is required to indeed see clearly in order to make evaluations or to issue relational sentences of whatever sort.
All judgment is with respect to a known law and its violation. Judgment issues as a measurement between a law and observed behavior respecting that law. Observable or discoverable behavior contrary to a law earns judgment.
But righteous judgment requires far more than observation or discoverable evidence of someone’s behavior against a law. Righteous judgment requires examination of and inquiry into the precipitory facts and spiritual motivations behind a behavior. Righteous judgment always asks questions and eschews presumptions before making evaluations and establishing determinations relative to evidential behavior.
Said more simply, righteous judgment requires information and spiritual discernment past superficial observations of what one is or has left evidence of doing that may violate a law. Such righteousness is enshrined in the maxim “innocent until proven guilty”—a maxim that demands inquiry before drawing conclusion. Remember that we are talking about any law. The “law” could be a civil or moral common law, a scriptural principal, a church practice, a family rule, a covenantal bond or even just a verbal agreement between friends.
The two greatest errors in any society are no justice and false justice. True justice demands inquiry into facts and motivations before rendering decisions relative to violative behaviors. Failure to execute righteous justice leads to a state of no justice, the former becoming offered as the justification for the latter. This applies to any relationship at any level over any matter natural or spiritual.
When considering the Law under the Old Covenant, almost entirely forgotten is the role of the “ephod,” specifically, the role of the stones known as the Urim and Thummim. Laws were not just punished upon observations of violations. Courts were held. Examinations were conducted. And in particular, the “ephod” was consulted. The Urim and Thummim within the ephod provided revelation and discernment for understanding the precipitory facts and spiritual motivations behind a given case. Brother Earls’ prophecy admirably describes the function of these stones:
Inside the pouch-like enclosure of the breastplate were placed the Urim and Thummim, by means of which the High Priest secured direct answers from the Lord God concerning the affairs of the nation… The Ten Commandments were the basic precepts-in-righteousness which were to form the foundation for the life of the nation; therefore they were engraved on specially prepared stones. The Urim and Thummim, in the possession of the High Priest, provided the means for direct guidance in the application and implementation of the basic precepts. They were therefore an important adjunct to the tablets of stone. When used by the High Priest they would emit the basic colors that form light, much the same way that a prism refracts the light of the sun and breaks it down into the seven primary colors. The very word 'Urim' means light. No natural light was needed to use the objects; the light was within them; but they had to be used together in order to produce the effect indicated by the name 'Thummim' which means perfection. The word shows the basic or primary answer received for a perfect application and implementation of the Ten Commandments. There was no excuse for uncertainty. The mind of the Lord could easily be received on any question and it would be a perfect 'break down' of the truth or light given in the Ten Commandments.
Today we have the Holy Spirit instead of the ephod to “guide us into all Truth.” The Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation has been given us so that we in the church may exercise righteous relational judgment one with another. Similarly, “we are without excuse.” And yet….
Paul’s first lament still remains in force:
I Cor. 6:2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 5 I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers?
We’ve heard so much about “kingdom” and “authority” in the last 40 years. But more accurately depicting us are the words sung by Steve Green:
“We have had so many big but empty words.”
Indeed, what we see around us now passing for “church government” is not pretty. The church at large demonstrates little capacity for judging righteous judgment—if any at all—that can justify any boasting of being a “kingdom force” to be reckoned with by the world. Given that we are in the second age of unbelief, we should, I suppose, also not be surprised. But despite this, every one of us needs to know and understand this:
“Church government begins with me.”
We may not be able to affect the larger governments of mega churches or of society itself, but we can affect our most local government—the government of our own families and interpersonal relationships through the spoken word. We can judge righteous judgment now by asking questions and seeking discernment before uttering vain words of execution against our relationships which we will someday come to regret. And though we may not sense that we can impact very much at large with it, we can know that we will be prepared to assume a greater role of justice at the revelation of the Lord.
The chief justices of the soon-to-be-manifest kingdom are being groomed under the tutelage of this age’s follies—in the secret place of those hearts now learning righteous judgment in the smallest of their relationships. Those who have been faithful with little during their mortal “now” will indeed be entrusted with the much authority for “judging the world” and “ruling the nations” in their immortal “then.”
Could you be one of them?
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
Page created August 16, 2014