JUDGMENT – RIGHTEOUS AND CRITICISM
Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.
Question: How may we distinguish between “righteous judgment” and “criticism”?
Answer: Our Lord said, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7: 24), and the Apostle Paul said, “Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come” (1 Corinthians 4” 5). What is “righteous judgment”? Righteous judgment is a right decision. But since we cannot read the heart, how can we render a right decision? Although the Scriptures indicate that we cannot read, and therefore should not attempt to judge one another’s hearts, motives, or intentions, we may judge each other’s conduct.
If we see one of the Lord’s people doing something improper, we might say to him or her that their conduct seems to be contrary to God’s Word. If they reply that it does not seem to them that they are doing wrong, we must not judge or condemn that one’s heart. But we should judge between good and evil conduct, and at the proper time and place call attention to the matter and leave it there.
But we are all prone to mistakes, and our judgment of another’s conduct could be wrong. We may come to a brother and say that his conduct seems to be wrong, but we are sure that he wants to do right. He may be able to show that his conduct was good even though we thought it bad. We may have misunderstood the matter. We are not to condemn him but go directly to him and get his view. Then if we cannot agree, we should tell him how it seems to us, and ask him to judge his own heart. We cannot do any more.