Jesus said, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). Have you ever tried to convince someone that the religious position he/she held was incorrect? If so, you probably received an answer somewhat like this: “You are judging me, and that is wrong.” While we are never to presume to judge one’s motives, a certain amount of judging is absolutely necessary to pleasing God. We cannot judge what is beyond our ability to perceive, but that which is before us and regulated by His Word, we must judge.
We are not, according to our text, to judge “according to appearance,” or only based on externals when the matter pertains to the inner man. I cannot see whether your secret thoughts are right with God unless you manifest your motive incontrovertibly by your actions. I cannot perform a cursory review based on my own preferences or rules. These things are strictly forbidden.
But notice that in our text there is a judging that we are compelled to engage in, and it is called “righteous judgment.” We consider the works of an individual, compare them with the standard of righteousness (God’s Word—John 12:48), and arrive at a conclusion as to the propriety of those works. It is not wrong to engage in this kind of judgment; in fact, it is wrong not to engage in this kind of judging!
How can we oppose a man like Hitler without judging righteous judgment? How can we say that Saddam Hussein was or the devil himself is wrong without comparing their deeds with the Bible? And is not such a comparison judging? Indeed. It is judging righteous judgment.
Someone who says, “You are wrong for judging,” has engaged in the very activity he condemns. He has judged you for judging. He condemns you for condemning. Where is the consistency? To judge righteous judgment is to preach the Truth. To judge righteous judgment is to determine what is required of God on a given matter and then to pronounce His requirements to one in danger of Hell-fire.
Heed His Word: “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24).