JUDGE NOT

by Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Chapter 6 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Justice)


"The LORD your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude. (The LORD God of you fathers make you a thousand times so many more as ye are, and bless you, as he hath promised you!) How can I myself alone bear you cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife? Take you wise men and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you. And ye answered me, and said, The thing which thou hast spoken is good for us to do. So I took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known, and made them heads over you, captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens, and officers among your tribes. And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him." Deuteronomy 1:10-16

Moses looked out and saw the multitudes of Israelites and realized that he could not adequately judge them all. He knew he needed help. No man could make all the judgments that needed to be made, so Moses chose men according to their ability to help him judge.

What does the Bible mean when it says that we are not to judge? Does that mean that we are never to judge an individual in any situation? In this chapter I am going to explain what the Bible means when it says, "Judge not."

In Deuteronomy God through Moses gave men areas of judgment. There were three restrictions given to these men or judges.

1. The judges were not allowed to rule or judge in another area. Romans 14:4, "Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand." God has given us each an area where we are supposed to judge. If we go outside that area, it is called "judging" and that is wrong! Each of us is to judge inside our areas, but we are not to make judgments in another's area.

We live in a society of critiquing. Everyone thinks he has a right to critique everybody else. Our universities teach students how to critique each other. Even in some Christian colleges in homiletics classes the students are often taught to critique preaching.

A teacher in a classroom must judge his students. That is not wrong. If that teacher judges the students in another classroom, that is judging, and it is wrong. It is up to the person who has been given the responsibility of judgment to decide what should be done. The Bible asks who we think we are to interfere. It's none of our business! Matthew 7:1, 2, "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."

Nobody can run anything with the whole world trying to help him run it. In your areas of judgment everyone would not always agree with the way you judge, but it is not their business to interfere. Likewise, it is not your business to interfere with the areas of others. If we judge areas that are not our responsibility, we have no power to make changes in those areas. As a result, there are three things that would begin happening to us. These are the three things that happen to all who judge outside their own area:

(1) It brings anger. When you judge outside of your area and it is not done the way you think it should be done, you get angry because you have no power to change it. The best thing for you is to not even know what is happening in another man's area. Keep yourself focused on that which is in your area and on the judgments that you must make.

People get angry because they want their way and they do not get it. There is no need for you to have a way if you do not judge, and there is no way for you to judge if you just mind your own business.

(2) It brings frustration. The human mind is so constructed that it needs to complete what is starts. No one is as frustrated as the person who starts something and does not finish it. When you judge something that is not in your area, you cannot complete the cycle; therefore, you are going to be frustrated. Much of the mental illness people have comes from the frustration of judging what other people do without the ability to change it.

(3) It brings pride. When a person begins to judge outside his own area, before he realizes it, he thinks he can judge everything. I have to be careful all the time because people all across America call or write and ask me what to do. If I am not very careful, I will begin to think that I am always right, and I will want to tell other preachers how to run their church or ministry. It is easy for a judge over much to think he has the ability to judge better than the judge over little. It would be easy for me to have an opinion on how one of our college graduates should run his church. I am not to have an opinion or judgment unless he asks me for my advice.

One reason it was wrong for the Pharisees who caught the woman in the act of adultery to judge her was that it was not their area of judgment. God had set up certain powers for the judgment of the woman. Anything else is anarchy.

2. The judges could not even consider a situation without two witnesses. Just like the Supreme Court, they were not allowed to even take the case unless two witnesses came forward at the same time. Two witnesses brought about a cause to investigate but not a verdict of guilt!

We are to abstain from the appearance of evil as Christians. However, if someone does not abstain from the appearance of evil, we are not to make a judgment on that appearance. We are never to judge according to the appearance. John 7:24, "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." We are to judge according to the fact. Never convict people because it appears that they have done something wrong. This is what causes much of the trouble in churches.

This is called mercy. Mercy is not judging without truth. Truth is what you judge. Justice is when you punish for what you know has been done. Mercy never judges by appearance. Proverbs 28:20, 'Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy."

Let me give you five statements that relate to this truth:

(1) We must have righteous judgment;

(2) None is righteous, as we read in Romans 3:10, "As it is written, there is none righteous, no not one";

(3) So we cannot judge the inside. I Samuel 15:7 says that God looks on the heart. Man cannot look upon the heart, so man cannot judge the heart. That means that man cannot judge motives. It is time for us to quit judging people's motives;

(4) God is the final judge; and

(5) We can judge only what we know, and that is not the inside!

Over and over again the Bible says that man is justified by faith, but James comes along and says that man is justified by works. People have argued this point for years, yet both are true because there are two forms of justification. Paul was talking about being justified in the sight of God. James was talking about being justified in the sight of man. God alone can judge the heart of man. Man can judge only what he sees. Man's judgment is limited by actions, not motives.

3. The judges were not allowed to seek for witnesses in an attempt to find guilt. Sometimes people "get it in" for someone and begin looking for something wrong in that person. When they find something, they rejoice over it. That is not justice. There is nothing as awful as a person who spends his life looking for something to justify the condemnation he already feels for someone. That is a miserable man.

For the sake of your friends, your family, your church, your class, your school and your life, do not judge outside of your area. You can enjoy the peace of going to bed at night knowing you are just.

I refuse to allow myself to form opinions in areas for which I am not responsible. If all Christians practiced these principles, there would never be another church split. We are so prone to judge.

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