Exercising Godly Judgment and Mercy
Being judgmental and critical of ourselves and others was never in God’s perfect plan for us.
Yeshua (Jesus) said, “Do not Judge, or you too will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1)
But does this mean that we are never to make any kind of judgment about anything or anyone? Of course, this would not only be impossible, but foolish.
Yeshua was merely warning us that instead of casting judgment on all those around us, we should first examine ourselves. His very next words are:
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:2–5)
Yeshua was not telling us to never make any kind of judgment; He only warned us against the hypocritical self-righteous judging of others. So often, we judge others for the very same thing we ourselves are doing.
We tell our children to obey us as their parents, but then they see us not obeying the authority over us.
Or we tell them to have a good attitude and then they hear us complaining.
There is a righteous kind of judgment that we are expected to exercise carefully.
“Do not judge according to appearance but judge with righteous judgment.” (John 7:24)
We need to make wise and discerning “righteous judgments.” If we are considering someone becoming our marriage partner, for instance, we cannot say, “I’m just not going to judge this person.” This would be ridiculous; we are expected to use common sense and judge a person’s actions according to Biblical standards.
The Bible says, “You shall know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16)
Nevertheless, Yeshua warned us that just as we give out judgment toward others, so will we be judged ourselves. If we judge others harshly, expecting absolute perfection, being impossible to please, this will return back on our own heads; however, if are judgments are righteous and balanced with mercy, then we will also receive mercy and grace in our time of need.
So often we seem to want mercy (or a little special consideration because of our circumstances) when we are at fault or mess up, but call forth God’s wrath and judgment against those who have wronged us.
Yeshua taught us to be merciful: “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)
When confronted with the woman caught in the act of adultery, Yeshua showed her mercy. He did not condemn her, but warned her not to continue in her sin.
Like Yeshua, we need to model a balance between justice and mercy. Some of us may be too hard-line, too judgmental, too demanding of others that they live up to some kind of over-idealized standard that even we can’t meet.
Or we may lean towards being such a “greasy gracie” that we let anyone walk all over us, and we tend to get into all kinds of foolish situations because of our failure to exercise right judgment.
In the end, God is the only perfectly righteous and just Judge over all the earth. Only He can achieve that perfect balance between justice and mercy, but through prayer and holiness, we can move toward His righteousness as we judge ourselves and others.
The Fruit of Our Lips: Placing Shoftim and Shotrim at Our Mouths
According to Rabbinic Jewish thought, the human body is likened to a city with seven gates—our two eyes, two ears, two nostrils and one mouth—that open to the outer world and can be closed off as well.
Each of these seven portals is to have an internal “judge,” which discerns what is permissible to allow inside and what to keep out.
Through the wisdom of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), whose judgment is right, just and true, we may exercise discernment between good and evil—knowing when to be open to outside influences and when to be closed, in order that we may be holy vessels for Adonai.
May we place shoftim (judges) and shotrim (officials) at our mouths to guard them from speaking falsely.
But more than just preventing words that hurt others from escaping our lips, may the words from our mouth be a well of life to those around us (Proverbs 10:11).
And may the fruit of our lips feed many, nourishing and refreshing others (Proverbs 10:21).