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John 7 Part 4: Finding Righteous Judgement

Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgement.

John 7:24

Most of us have heard the following statements: "Only God can judge me!" or "Don't judge me!" and even "Judge not lest you be judged!" The sad thing is that we often hear these when we have confronted others about their conduct or behavior. These words are often used as a defense to stop people from examining and discussing negative or destructive behavior. But this is not the Biblical teaching about judgement. God wants us to use righteous judgement.

Many people use the verse from Matthew 7 "Judge not lest you be judged" wrongly. Jesus was not talking about letting people do anything they want and not saying anything about it. Jesus was talking against the hypocritical and self-righteous judgement of people who use judgement to guilt and to make themselves appear better than others. This is exactly what the religious community was doing. And it still happens today. Anytime that we get to a place where we forget our own issues and start thinking thoughts like, "At least I am not like that." or "At least I don't do that." is a time when we are in danger of self-righteousness and hypocritical behavior. That is the "log" that Jesus was telling people to take out of their own eye.

In the passage above Jesus was confronting the negative and destructive behavior of the religious leaders. They were accusing him of wrongdoing because He had healed someone on the Sabbath. (John 7:23) They were controlling people through fear (John 7:13); and they were seeking to kill Jesus (John 7:19). He was judging their actions with righteous judgement while they were judging who He was and his actions with hypocrisy and unrighteous judgement. They were being self-righteous and Jesus was calling them out on it.

Righteous judgment seeks to help, encourage, and lift others up even when confronting negative or destructive behavior. The most important detail about judging with righteous judgement is that it must be tempered with mercy. "Judgement is without mercy on the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgement." (James 2:13) Mercy comes for us when we hold in mind that we also have issues and problems. This doesn't mean that we let people commit acts of lawlessness and destructive behavior and say it's okay. It means that when we confront people, we do so out of love and care and not out of an attitude of being better than others. That is righteous judgment.

Blessings to you!

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