Matthew 7:1 says, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” The same sentiment is found in Luke 6:37, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged.” Then, in the Gospel of John, Jesus seems to stand these to admonitions on their heads when He said, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24). What are we to make of these seemingly contradictory statements? “Do not judge…judge with righteous judgment.”
I believe that at the root of these statement is that most of us possess the very keen gift of jumping to conclusions. How easy it is to quickly assess a situation and instantly come up with the wrong conclusion. This happens all the time. It is the chief cause of broken relationship inside of our families, among our friends and acquaintances, as well as inside of the church. What Jesus is instructing us to do is prayerfully weigh all the facts before we draw our conclusions.
Unless we are led by the Spirit, we can find ourselves easily offended by something that was never meant to offend. Because we do not possess the type of vision that can look at a heart or judge one’s motivation, we must be careful with our judgments. Jesus is the perfect one to instruct in these matters because He was continually being judged by the Scribes and the Pharisees. In their eyes He was always on the wrong side of the issues, hanging out with the wrong crowd, healing on the Sabbath Day, and a host of other transgressions.
And when we do draw the wrong conclusions about someone or some situation, the devil then kicks our gift of jumping to conclusions into high gear. And soon, people are hurt, people are offended and out of these perceived offences, Satan begins to build walls that separate us from ones that we desperately need to love and be loved by. I have lost count of the number of people who have come through my office over the years that have not spoken to a family member or a former friend for years, over something that in the big picture did not matter in the least.
Now, if you will read on in Matthew 7 you will note that Jesus also said, “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:2). In essence, what is being said here is go ahead and jump to your conclusions, go ahead and render your harsh judgments, but beware, because, my dear friend, you will be judged by the very standard that you have erected. And my, how that stings when it comes back at us.
Ponder these words of Jesus and be careful the next time you are tempted to jump to conclusions.