Righteous judgment involves first judging ourselves before we judge others. Righteous judgment involves God’s law as a foundation, discernment, humility, and service.
Sermon: Righteous Judgment Righteous judgment involves first judging ourselves before we judge others. Righteous judgment involves God’s law as a foundation, discernment, humility and service. Presented by Dan Dowd Milwaukee, Wisconsin – January 29, 2011
Have you ever thought about what kind of ruler you would be? It can be an interesting exercise at times. There was a one-panel cartoon years ago, at least where I grew up, that was entitled There Oughta Be a Law and it was highlighting something there should be a law against. You and I sit here today contemplating, at times, rulership, don’t we? Future rulership has always been part of the picture of the kingdom of God. It’s been that way ever since I’ve been associated with it, even going back way beyond that. And as I mentioned, sometimes we would look at a cartoon panel like the one I described and say, “Well, if I was in charge…” We have it all figured out don’t we? We armchair quarterback; we know what should be done. And sometimes when we look at the world around us, it can seem like there’s no rhyme or reason for many of the laws or rulings that get passed. But is that all there is to ruling? Looking at a particular situation and thinking, “Well, it oughta be thus and such.” Most of us know bad judgment when we see it. We see that on a regular enough basis that we can determine those things whether it’s a celebrity trial of one sort or another, somebody in the political realm that gets into trouble. The problem with those situations is that more often than not it’s not about truth and justice are they?
It’s more often about who has the better lawyer or who has more money or whatever it is. What should have been done in those situations? Have you ever asked yourself that question? How would you rule? How would you judge in particular situations because our judicial system is not really based on discerning truth or achieving justice. If you think so, that is quite frankly a very naïve position. I’d like to read an article that I kept from some years back from a Newsweek magazine. The title of it is “Equal Before The Law.” The lady who wrote this was a public defender and it’s interesting to observe her change of mind if you will. She says, “As a beginning public defender I litigate mostly misdemeanors where the maximum sentence cannot exceed one year. My clients have been accused of such heinous crimes as possessing a spiny lobster out of season, surfing in a swim zone and collecting trash without a permit. Of course I’ve handled more serious offenses – rape, child molestation and vehicular manslaughter.” She writes, “Once I get over my initial reaction to a case it becomes like a chess game. I comb the police report looking for weaknesses, forging out problems with the prosecution’s case. It is a rational, analytic, creative process. When I first started my job, I thought like a social worker. I justified representing those who were guilty because I thought I could help them. After two years my conscience no longer required such justification. It doesn’t really matter to me if my client committed a crime.
My job is to advocate and that means I must present the evidence in a way that is most beneficial to my client. As public defender I must bridge the divide between us and them, myself and my client, proving that everyone is equal before the law.” Do you understand what she is saying? It’s really interesting to hear that and read that because her position is really not for the law but that everyone should be free to violate the law. That everyone’s equal in that way. Many who call themselves Christians feel that virtually any judgment of someone else on our part is wrong. I still hear that and it still surprises me when I hear that. Consequently, to even think about putting a convicted murderer to death is unimaginable. Some years back, and this goes way back, I remember hearing the story that there were two school boys who went on a rampage and killed many school mates. The popular thought at the time was (people were wrestling in their minds with this) how can we give them the death penalty when they’re seven and eight years old? This is how old they were. The comment was that the death penalty was barbaric. What is judgment? Is it simply assessing punishment? How do we practice judgment as God would have us do? How would we assess situations such as these two young boys and there are many others that present themselves in the news. That’s where I’d like to spend the time today. I’m going to take the time to talk about judgment. Judgment as God shows us, how we should judge, and last but not least, how we should judge righteous judgment. I’ve used this verse a number of time recently.
Matthew 23:23 Matthew 23:23Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
American King James Version×– It’s one of my favorite because it cuts to the heart of a lot of matters concerning Christianity. In Matthew 23:23 Matthew 23:23Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
American King James Version×we have the interaction of Christ with the scribes, the Pharisees of the day, and he really takes them to task because they understood the law but they really didn’t understand judgment. They certainly didn’t understand the application and spiritual context because to them the law was the beginning and the end. So Christ sought to clarify that where he says – Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin – very small herb seeds and would border on being tedious to count these out, yet this is how meticulous they were in observing the law. But notice, he doesn’t take them to task for being meticulous, but rather shows them where they neglected. He says – you have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done (that is justice, mercy and faith needs to be done) without leaving the others undone. That is, paying the tithe and doing the other aspects of the law. It’s not one or the other. It’s both. The law is important. Matters of tithing and so forth, all are important as we stand before God.
As we consider this verse, we look at things such as mercy, we can understand that even on a human level. I understood that a lot when my parents pulled down the paddle for my brothers, never for me. I speak as a fool. That was a humbling time. I was begging for mercy in those situations. We understand that sort of thing. Even as we grow up and stand before God, when our shortcomings are pointed out, we ask God for mercy, don’t we? Every Passover we go through the same exercise. We’re acutely aware of our shortcomings and we’re grateful for the mercy God extends to us. Faith – we understand more and more as we grow in our baptism, our calling – we understand that more as we go through more things in life, the trust, the dependency on God, as we see God’s hand in our lives, the promises He fills – that faith is strengthened. But judgment, how many of us think of growing in judgment? The word here in Matthew translated “judgment” is “krisis.” It means “to make a decision.” It is about justice, specifically in divine law. Now this Greek word “krisis” is also the root word for our English word “crisis.” Our word “crisis” usually means a turning point involving a separation. When we go through a crisis things usually divide. We go one way or the other. People go one way or the other. This word occurs over 290 times in the King James Bible. How do we fulfill the weightier matters of the law in judgment? How do we go about doing that?
How do we separate matters of right and wrong in terms of God’s judgment? This is where I’m going to spend the bulk of my remaining sermon time. Part of what we need to acknowledge up front is that the world doesn’t know how to judge righteously. We judge out of anger, we judge out of revenge, we judge according to appearance, we judge according to who’s wealthy or not. We judge on a lot of external parameters, don’t we? How should we judge? John 7 is where I want to go next. John 7:19 John 7:19Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keeps the law? Why go you about to kill me?
American King James Version×– breaking into the thought here because earlier the ones listening to Christ were marveling over Christ’s understanding. Again, they were judging him for his appearance. He was just a carpenter’s son. In the modern context, he’d not gone to university or, if he had, he’d not even gone to a very good one. So they were astounded at his teachings and in verse, he says – "Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill Me?" They probably scratched their heads over this because they understood Moses’ law. They didn’t have a clue in some ways what he was talking about. That is, they didn’t understand the sixth commandment went beyond the simple aspect of not killing someone. It involved, as we know from other scriptures, hating someone. And they truly hated Christ. In the eyes of God’s law there is no difference we’re told. Verse 20 – The people answered and said, "You have a demon. Who is seeking to kill You?" They’re deflecting here, aren’t they? Verse 21 – … He answers and says, "I did one work, and you all marvel.”
Verse 22 – "Moses therefore gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers)… Again, they even missed that point. It didn’t come from Moses. It preceded him by hundreds of years, and he says – and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. Verse 23 – If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath – now let’s just pause there for a moment and understand what he’s talking about. Is it OK to violate the Sabbath day? It depends. To do our own will? Absolutely not. To follow God’s instruction? Then we’re not really violating the Sabbath day, are we? There comes a time when we have to apply the principles of the Sabbath day. For the descendants of Israel, as was mentioned, this was a sign, a token of the covenant. It was so important that God said, you can do this on the Sabbath day. He’s turning the question around to them saying, look if it’s OK to do that on the Sabbath day so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with me because I healed a man on the Sabbath day? In other places he says, you even turn your animals out to feed on the Sabbath day. You’d think they’d be ecstatic that something this amazing would have been done on the Sabbath day. Of all days, why not the Sabbath day to heal someone? Notice what he says in verse 24 – "Do not judge according to appearance…” Why? Because it’s not the whole picture. We can’t discern the heart, we can’t discern what’s going through their minds. We can’t discern even if it is an emergency or if there are other circumstances. We don’t know the background in many cases. But notice what he does say – judge with righteous judgment."
This is the aspect of Matthew 23 when we’re talking about justice, mercy and faith. It must not just be judgment. It must be righteous judgment. That’s the component that’s missing in the world around us. This nation was founded on very sound spiritual principles. When you go back and read the works of the founding fathers it is clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that they had God’s law as a foundation of virtually everything that was established in this nation to the point where if you go into most courthouses even to this day that someplace in the courthouse the ten commandments are displayed. They are trying to move that out more and more and what happens when you do? Who defines what is “righteous” judgment then? Let’s turn next to Isaiah 11. This is a concept, this righteous judgment that Israel itself, quite frankly, struggled with. It’s a humanity problem if you will because having taken of the tree of knowledge of good and evil we want to try to figure these things out ourselves don’t we? And the problem is that we’ll all have different opinions and that creates its own set of problems. Isaiah 11:1 Isaiah 11:1And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
American King James Version×– There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse… This is what’s called the Messianic string within Isaiah, the recurring aspects of the Messiah to come. Verse 1 (cont) – And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. Verse 2 – The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.
Verse 3 – His delight is in the fear of the LORD, And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, Nor decide by the hearing of His ears; For us, why is that a problem if we try to judge these ways? Because we can be influenced. Partial facts; we can hear one side of the story and think that’s everything. We all know there are three sides right? His side, her side, and the truth. We can’t discern these things but Christ can. He will understand the matters of the heart. Verse 4 – But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, And decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. Wisdom, understanding, the spirit of counsel, spirit of knowledge – think about those aspects in terms of judgment. We don’t oftentimes hear of that. Again, in a modern context, they talk about precedents, they talk about case law, they talk about international law, and they talk about other rulings. Judgment would be thrown out if they would use the Bible as the basis. In fact I’ll give you a little tip here. If you ever get called for jury duty you can just about always get out of it if you say you’ll judge according to the Biblical standard. There’s probably not a lawyer in the land that would want you on that jury. That’s a sad thing isn’t it?
Let’s paint a picture of a situation to judge. How many times have you been in a grocery store and seen someone eating fruit they had picked up in the produce section before they paid for it? It happens all the time doesn’t it? Is that OK to do? Depending on the grocery store they may or may not make an issue of it. In most cases they don’t because they want the other business. In the industry that’s called shrinkage. Your inventory shrunk. That’s a polite way of saying somebody took it. But is it OK to do? Deuteronomy 23 We’re talking about judgment because as we’ll see in a moment judgment is an aspect of what you and I will be doing in the future. Deuteronomy 23:24 Deuteronomy 23:24When you come into your neighbor's vineyard, then you may eat grapes your fill at your own pleasure; but you shall not put any in your vessel.
American King James Version×– When you come into your neighbor's vineyard, you may eat your fill of grapes at your pleasure… does that sound odd to you? There are a lot of people who would be upset if they saw someone going through their vineyard eating their grapes Verse 24 (cont) – but you shall not put any in your container. Think about this from a practical standpoint especially in this day and age. There was no refrigeration, no processed foods, no packaged foods that would store on shelves for months and months at a time. If they were hungry they had to go get it somewhere, whether their stores, from their animals, or borrow it. In this case, if they were walking down the road and they were hungry, God says that’s OK.
Verse 25 – When you come into your neighbor's standing grain, you may pluck the heads with your hand… You know, sort of pull it off the stalks, rub it between your hands and blow the chaff off, then you could eat the grain …but you shall not use a sickle… Don’t go in and harvest but you can take what you need when you’re hungry. God doesn’t expect anyone to go hungry unnecessarily but as we’ve seen here in just these two verses there are stipulations still in that. He says you can’t go in and harvest. You can’t go into an apple orchard and have a couple of apples and then on your way out turn your shirt up and fill it – make a little apron out of it – and walk out with dozens of apples. That’s not right. There is something else that’s interesting. If we move to chapter 24, look at the principle God wanted applied there. Chapter 24:19 – When you reap your harvest in your field, and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. Verse 20 – When you beat your olive trees… The way to get the olives off the high branches was to have a long pole and they would hit against the branches and make everything fall. They would usually lay some large piece of cloth underneath and collect these. He says when you go and do this with the olive trees don’t go back again. Verse 20 (cont) – it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. Verse 21 – When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not glean it afterward; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. You go through and some are not ripe. You don’t pick those. He says don’t go back again.
Notice why: Verse 22 – And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; God wanted them to become a community not become fixated on “this is mine” and not take care of someone who is in need. Notice also that those in need had an obligation also. If they wanted this they couldn’t go to the farmer, hand him their basket and say please fill this up. They had to go out into the field and get it. The farmer had to leave it but they had to go get it if they wanted it. In other places it talks about not gleaning the corners of the field. In a modern harvesting sense, that’s almost impossible, isn’t it? Those harvesters pick everything up. God made a provision. If you remember the story of Ruth, this is exactly what Ruth was doing. She had to go and work for what she was getting. Of course, Boaz was very generous wasn’t he? Purposefully dropping grain and such. But still she had to make the effort. Again, we can look at bad examples of judgment. We see that all around us – the punishment’s not fair, the laws are not fair. In my visits to some of the prisons it’s interesting that for some crimes that don’t seem that violent they’ll get large sentences. And in other cases the sad reality is that even something as violent as a rape conviction may only get someone a couple years in prison. There’s no equity, no consistency.
Let’s think about the fact that that law is not applied equally. What’s the result? The result is that people try to play the angles, don’t they? Let’s think about what happens because of that. Is it merciful to let people do whatever they want or is it more merciful to set a standard so that all are dealt with in the same manner? There’s nothing worse when you’re a kid and you see inequity – “That’s not fair.” We still do that as adults, don’t we? God wants us to judge according to righteousness. When we look at God’s law we can ask the question: Is it merciful to let people continue in sin or is it more merciful to allow them to be put to death so they can be resurrected and taught a way of life before they set their heart to a wrong way. That’s a huge element of what people miss in the Old Testament. They look at God as this vengeful, bloody, angry God but think about it on a practical level. When I go into those prisons, they’re not designed to restore someone to society. It’s rather shocking. There are programs and various things available to these prisoners, but in most cases they can’t make them go to anger management, they can’t make them learn a trade, they can’t make them change their ways. In fact in most cases they just make them harder when they come out. God says no. Stop that. Don’t let it spread. We’ll address it later. When the environment is right we can address it in the right way. Exodus chapter 22 God also wanted proper restitution when laws were broken but what does our judicial system teach us? It doesn’t teach restitution, there is no swift justice.
Exodus 22:1 Exodus 22:1If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.
American King James Version×– If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and slaughters it or sells it, he shall restore five oxen for an ox and four sheep for a sheep. Four for one. I don’t know about you, but I would have to think long and hard because if I don’t get away with it, it’s going to cost me big time isn’t it? Verse 2 – If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed. That is, he’s breaking into somebody’s house, somebody’s barn, somebody’s property, the owner in fear strikes him and he dies, God says there’s no consequence. The fellow shouldn’t have been breaking in. Verse 3 – If the sun has risen on him… That is the assumption is that it’s in the dark, you don’t know what’s going on. Verse 3 – If the sun has risen on him there shall be guilt for his bloodshed. That is, you could see what he was doing. That level of violence should not have been there even if the individual was breaking in. Verse 3 (cont) – He should make full restitution; if he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. That is, the one who broke in, not the owner, which is often the case in our modern society isn’t it? Verse 4 – If the theft is certainly found alive in his hand – that is, if he has stolen an animal and they find him and it’s still alive – whether it is an ox or donkey or sheep, he shall restore double. Now in most cases people steal because they don’t have, right? In this situation I suspect the circumstances wouldn’t be much different.
So how would he do this? How would a thief repay? In the old English system they would throw him in jail, debtors’ prison and that never made sense to me. They have no money so you’re going to put them somewhere where they have no opportunity to make money? How are they ever going to repay their debt? In this situation, more often than not, what is going to happen is they became a servant to this person. They worked off their debt. That’s why God had laws then about how to treat slaves. That term is not universal as we might understand it in today’s context. It didn’t mean anyone who never had their freedom; they lost it by their actions. They lost their freedom. Now think about that aspect. We’re talking about righteous judgment. I don’t know you. I think you have more than you need so I go steal something from you. My family is hungry on a regular basis so I go steal an ox, that’s a pretty big animal, I can eat for a long time off of that. But I get caught and now I have to work for you. What happens in that situation? I find out what your family’s like, I find out how hard you work providing for your family. I find out that there are a lot of things that I have assumed that are not the case. And now I know you and it’s harder to hurt somebody you know than somebody you don’t know, isn’t it? God’s law required restitution because He wanted to end it. Throwing somebody into prison is not going to give them restitution, is it? I asked the question earlier about how we would judge those two boys. Let’s look at that.
Deuteronomy 21. Deut 21:18 – If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and who, when they have chastened him, will not heed them… The parents have tried. We could call this a strong-willed child. We could call him obstinate. We could call him rebellious. Verse 19 – then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city, to the gate of his city. This is typically where they made these judgments. It was a public place. Verse 20 – And they shall say to the elders of his city,`This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.' I don’t think that’s embellishing. It’s simply that one leads to the other, doesn’t it? Sin multiplies. Verse 21 – Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall put away the evil from among you, and all Israel shall hear and fear. We did for a long time in this country have a concept of preventing crime because of the actions of the justice system. If you knew you ran the risk of years in prison that became a deterrent. If you knew that if you killed somebody you would forfeit your life prison that became a deterrent. If you knew what the punishment was going to be and it was sure, it became a deterrent. But we don’t have deterrents very much in this nation any more. We’ve drifted from God’s law.
Now what’s the deterrent by putting someone to death in this situation? Will it absolutely deter someone else from doing the same thing? Not necessarily. It will deter them from doing it again. And that’s part of the point, isn’t it? Going back again to what we were talking about earlier. The difference with God’s justice and our justice is that God can fix it. We know from the Holy Day plan, from what we understand in scripture, that God could raise that person again and say, “OK, that wasn’t working really well was it? Let me show you a better way. Here, I’ve even got somebody who can walk you through it.” And we can teach that person in an environment that will back up that law. In this section then, God says this is how you deal with this. And verse 21, at the end, says why: Because God wanted the evil put away. He didn’t want it to be tolerated, He didn’t want it to be winked at, He didn’t want it to grow within the culture. Do you realize that we had more murders in this country last year than soldiers that died in Iraq and Afghanistan? But what made the news? The military deaths. We’re outraged over that. Where’s the outrage over the violence in our cities? There’s no consistency in this. Let’s turn to Matthew 7 next because I mentioned there are some who say we shouldn’t judge these matters. Essentially what they’re saying is that it’s wrong for me to say it’s wrong. Is that a position we should take? Is that in accordance with making righteous judgments? Matthew 7:1 Matthew 7:1Judge not, that you be not judged.
American King James Version×– Judge not, that you be not judged. Again, many will take that and say, Well then I can’t make a ruling, if you will. I can’t make a decision on this. But notice what he says in verse 2.
Matthew 7:2 Matthew 7:2For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again.
American King James Version×– For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. In other words, the aspect is not “don’t judge.” The aspect is “if you’re going to judge you have to first and foremost hold yourself up to the same standard.” In other words, I can’t say it’s wrong for you but it’s OK for me. Verse 3 – And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? This is one of those humorous hyperboles in scripture – that somebody would have this huge thing sticking out of his eye and yet he’s concerned about this teeny, tiny speck in somebody else’s eye. Verse 4 – Or how can you say to your brother,`Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Verse 5 – Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. We have to have the same standard. That’s part of what God was trying to get Israel to understand in the Old Testament. In fact, one of the unique things about God’s law as He gave it to Israel was that there was to be no difference between them and someone not of the nation of Israel. The law was universal. That’s not always the case even in a modern sense. You go to some countries and if they know that you’re not a native – go to France and break the law – you may not have the same access to the law as a citizen would have, or the same rights and privileges. In Israel God said it was to be the same for all. And from God’s perspective one of the principles of righteous judgment is that it involves judging according to truth.
Hebrews 5 The question then is: Whose truth? From mankind’s perspective that truth is all over the place, isn’t it? You go to court and the lawyers will jockey for certain judges because they know they might be predisposed to rule in their favor. Hebrews 5:14 Hebrews 5:14But strong meat belongs to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
American King James Version×– But solid food…he’s talking about spiritual immaturity here… But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. In other words, to do righteous judgment, to make righteous judgment you have to have considered the matters and exercised your discernment. Kids do this on a regular basis, where they’ll parent shop. They want to do something at the grocery store or whatever and they know which parent might be more lenient or willing or whatever. We do it as adults also, don’t we? We’ll try to find somebody who’s receptive to our viewpoint, try to convince them of things. But God here reminds us that it’s discerning both good and evil, to consider the whole matter and to consider it from His righteousness. If you want, write down Zechariah 7:8-14 Zechariah 7:8-14  And the word of the LORD came to Zechariah, saying,  Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and show mercy and compassions every man to his brother:  And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.  But they refused to listen, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear.  Yes, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts has sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts.  Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, said the LORD of hosts:  But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not. Thus the land was desolate after them, that no man passed through nor returned: for they laid the pleasant land desolate.
American King James Version×. You can read that at some later time. Essentially God is talking to Israel and judging them for not executing true justice. This was a problem. We see it even today as I mentioned. If you’ve got enough money you can get by with certain things. If you have enough fame. Look at how many times Paris Hilton has been in and out of these problems. Yet some of her friends that have been in similar situations did jail time or had huge fines. Is there justice there? Obviously there’s not, but to the point money talks, doesn’t it?
Luke 22 Let’s look at another aspect of this righteous judgment. The disciples are arguing here about who’s the greatest. From their perspective that was a logical thing to discuss because it was all around them as it is all around us. Who gets the corner office, who gets the assigned parking place, who gets the visible privileges or whatever it happens to be, the name on the door, or even the door when it’s just a farm of cubicles. All of these kinds of silly things. Luke 22:24 Luke 22:24And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.
American King James Version×– Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. Verse 25 – And He said to them, (Christ does say to them) "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called`benefactors.' They’re not usually, are they? Verse 26 – But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. Verse 27 – For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves. Christ was reminding them: Look, this is all backwards. I’m showing you what is the important thing Verse 28 – But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials. Verse 29 – And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, Verse 30 – that you may eat and drink at My table… Now what is he saying especially in connection to what we’re talking about today?
What does rulership have to do with true judgment, righteous judgment? You cannot have righteous judgment without service and humility. If I grow up privileged, not that that’s wrong, but then I’m to judge you and I don’t have any concept of what it means to be poor and scrape by in life, I’m going to judge you differently, aren’t I? If you didn’t go to the ivy league schools and you went to a community college, I’m going to judge you differently, aren’t I, or even if you went to college at all. My dad told me a story along this line and it kind of stuck in my head for awhile. He was at a local dealership near where he lived. I think his car was in to have some service work done and while he was waiting oftentimes people will wander around the new cars in the showroom. I think they do that on purpose because they want you to get a new car. Anyway, he’s hanging around in the showroom and this guy comes in and he’s in dirty overalls, kind of a tattered shirt, worn, not pressed and clean and preppy looking or whatever was expected. He couldn’t get the guys to wait on him, the sales people. He waited and he waited long enough and finally went to the manager. He asked one to get the manager. The manager came out and said, What’s the problem, why do you need to see me?” And he said, “I came in here to buy two cars and no one will help me. I just wanted you to know because I’m going to go somewhere else.” He was a farmer. He needed two trucks.
They wouldn’t wait on him because he didn’t look like a person that was coming in to buy and it cost them. It happens all the time, doesn’t it? We may not be aware of it. That’s judgment according to appearance. These guys forgot, if they ever knew, what Christ was talking about here in terms of service and humility. God does not want us to judge by outward appearance. He expects us to be able to judge but not according to our perception. Through His humility, through service the way He says to do it, applying His law the way it was meant to be used, in fact just using His law as a standard, and He expects us to use mercy in judgment. Righteous judgment begins with our own life first. That’s the point out of Matthew 7. If we’re not willing to judge ourselves then we’re not able to judge others righteously either. We oftentimes forget that. We want someone else to be the one who admits wrong or changes or whatever the need is but we’re not willing to look at ourselves. Let’s turn next to 1 Corinthians chapter 6. This is an important matter because God has in store for us other aspects that involve judgment. He also wants us to understand this so that we treat each other in the proper way. We can read the book of Corinthians and we can shake our head at that congregation but you know what? They’re no different that any other congregation in a modern context. It might be different sins and problems and circumstances but they’re still dealing with human nature. In chapter 6 Paul addresses the matter. One of the problems they had in their congregation was that they were taking each other to court over things. Verse 1 – Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?
Verse 2 – Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? Now please understand what I am not saying. I am not saying that we should never go to court. There are times when we should stand up for the rights we have. Paul used those things all the time. What Paul is saying here though is when it comes to matters of brothers and sisters, in a body, what are we doing? He reminds them here that we are going to judge the world. Now many have tried to massage that word “judge” and say it means “to manage” and it can, but it also means “to judge”. When someone is raised up in the second resurrection, do they come up with no problems? They are going to come up with the same issues they had when they died. God restores their mind, their personality, their body. They’re going to be shocked for awhile but those issues are going to start to present themselves and how do we deal with that? He continues – And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Verse 3 – Do you not know that we shall judge angels? I don’t know exactly what that means but there will be some instances where we will make decisions for those beings. Verse 3 (cont) – How much more, things that pertain to this life? Verse 4 – If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? In other words, we should seek judgment from those as we read earlier have exercised those things, to discern between good and evil. Verse 5 – I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren?
Verse 6 – But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers! You’re taking this matter before people who are not even using God’s law as a standard, he says. That should be huge red flags. Now in a modern context, we don’t always have the luxury. We get pulled into – we can – actions of getting sued or other legal problems. But when it comes to one another our standard should be God’s, not the world’s. Verse 7 – (at the end) Why do you not rather accept wrong? Sometimes the application of righteous judgment is simply taking the hit for our brother. That requires a lot of humility, doesn’t it, because we want our pound of flesh oftentimes Verse 7 – (cont) Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? Verse 8 – No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren! They weren’t applying righteous judgment. It’s OK for me but not for others. That just spirals down, doesn’t it? That doesn’t fix anything. Part of the point I’m making here is that now is the time for us to be training. Now is the time for us to be considering what it takes to judge righteously. When we read a newspaper or if you read something online from the news sites, have you ever thought how would God’s law address this matter? It’s not that we look to fix these things, but if we’re going to start to discern these things we have to start somewhere. How should I judge this according to God’s law?
We read in Isaiah 30:20 Isaiah 30:20And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not your teachers be removed into a corner any more, but your eyes shall see your teachers:
American King James Version×– (It’s on the back of World News & Prophecy newsletter every time it comes out) Mr. Robin Webber’s article “This is the way.” This is the way, walk you in it. You’re going to hear the voice behind you. Whose voice is that going to be? I would present to you today that it might be our voices. We’re to judge the world, we’re to teach. Judgment is not just condemnation. Judgment is also, if you remember, making a decision. That involves teaching. The aspect of God’s law of restitution was to teach people: Don’t do this. Revelation 5 You and I are going to be kings and priests. We are going to be the leadership. We are going to have those responsibilities in God’s kingdom. Is God going to just magically give that to us? He could but that’s not typically the way He works. God wants to see us put into motion the principles and He’ll give us what we’re lacking. But He will not give us what we’re not seeking. Revelation 5:8 Revelation 5:8And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints.
American King James Version×– Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. Verse 9 – And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, Verse 10 – And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth."
Rulership will require righteous judgment, decisions that will impact lives, one way or the other, but it will require all the things we have talked about: Service and humility and God’s law as a standard. How would you judge things in the world around you? How would you judge with righteous judgment? Being able to judge in a Godly manner is no small matter. How are we doing? Maybe you’ve not even considered it but can we do that? Can we judge righteously? Do we know the law of God well enough to even begin to judge righteously? Are we willing to judge ourselves first, to learn the standard, to apply it in the context of also having mercy and faith? Let’s remember then the weightier matter of the law as we move forward. Let’s continue to grow in righteous judgment as we also are to grow in mercy and faith.