Righteous Judgment In my various writings and public speaking, I have urged the born-again church to resist the trends of self-righteous anger and bitter cynicism that exist in our world. Instead, let us seek to possess the "higher . . . thoughts" of Christ (Isa. 55:9). In truth, our calling is to serve God as ambassadors of Christ (Eph. 6:20). A true ambassador is not only pledged to represent his or her leader; the ambassador is one who knows what that ruler actually thinks and what he would say. He receives regular communication with that leader and is current on his leader's short-term and long-term goals. Should the ambassador be ignorant of the ruler's view, he is trained to not offer his own opinions; he is to wait until he hears from the one he represents. The world doesn't want to know what we think. There are some seven billion opinions in the world today; what the nations need is not to hear our opinion, but to hear the One we represent: our King, Jesus Christ. I have also endeavored to put a roadblock in front of false discernment. We must avoid the self-righteous, religious approach of the Pharisees. When I urge people to not be judgmental, I am not saying don't discern. Spiritual discernment is an art form, while judging by outer appearance is an instinct of the flesh. I am saying we must learn how to wait, listen and, in meekness, discern the higher way of Christ.
Judgment That Is Righteous Yet inevitably there are still questions. What about the Lord's admonition calling us to "not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment" (John 7:24)? What is righteous judgment? In discussing this with others, I've noticed that the words righteous andjudgment seem to be all that some see in the verse. However, the first part of the verse explains, at least partially, the second half: righteous judgment is that which is "not . . . according to appearance." Righteous judgment comes from another source, that which is higher than the instincts of the flesh. You see, there is a difference between discerning a need that you are determined to pray for and, in contrast, simply finding fault which often degrades into gossip and slander. God does not call a person into a "ministry of judging others" just because one has always been fearless to "tell it as it is." Faultfinding is not a gift of the Spirit. If your judgment is truly from God, it will not be an isolated gift. You will also have humility from God, love, and lowliness of mind as well. Righteous judgment proves itself genuine by the virtues that support and present it. All the virtues of the Spirit -- love, joy, peace, gentleness, etc. -- should be functionally evident in your character. If so, you will have been known to be gentle, loving, lowly of mind and wise. When you bring a righteous judgment, your character affirms that your judgment is not an emotional reaction, but you come as one sent from God -- like Christ, you are typically full of grace and truth. You speak as an individual who is seriously concerned with bettering the life of others. As John wrote, "By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world" (1 John 4:17). Yes, the day of judgment is coming. Our goal should be that "love is perfected with us." In the seasons of judgment, we are called to a life of perfect love, for "as He is, so also are we in this world."