“But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” (Luke 11:42)
The judgment of God and the love of God are not mutually exclusive. In fact, judgment is not always at odds with mercy and is often an expression of mercy. God’s righteous judgments are the conclusions and decisions He reaches that always reflect His perfect character. He is known by the judgment He executes. (Psalm 9:16)
Scripture declares that God loves judgment (Psalm 33:5; 37:28) This does not mean He loves to punish people. Quite to the contrary, His judgments reveal His great heart of compassion. Because He is a God of judgment He comes to the rescue of the fatherless, the widow, the stranger, the afflicted and the oppressed. His judgments involve showing mercy to the poor, the needy, and the outcast.
Jesus rebuked the Pharisees because they were without the love of God AND judgment. The Pharisees “passed over” the judgment that God loves; they were judgmental. Being judgmental has to do with judging superficially, after the outward appearance. (John 7:24) It has to do with being proud and haughty and “holier than thou,” not remembering that “but for the grace of God, there go I.” It leads to the condemnation of the very people God longs to seek and save. It despises those deemed incompetent, insignificant and inferior. Being judgmental has nothing to do with the judgment of God that displays His goodness and establishes His righteousness.
Our greatest enemy in having true judgment in our dealings with others is our walking in our own mind.
Our greatest enemy in having true judgment in our dealings with others is our walking in our own mind. We can think we do God a service while we kill His servants. We can think we are upholding His holiness while our heart is impure. We can think we are defending His greater cause while we are acting narrowly on our own behalf. We can think we are representing Him well by our zealousness while we are doing more to tarnish His reputation. We can think we are the guardians of His law and instruments of His justice while we are only caricatures of His glory.
Apart from a sensitive walk in the Spirit of God we will pass over judgment and the love of God. We will do religious things but be far from God in our heart. The Lord cried out through the prophet Amos: “Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.” (Amos 5:23,24) To exercise righteous judgment is to truly flow in the Holy Spirit. This is more acceptable to God than all our singing and praising in His house, no matter how glorious.
Jesus is our perfect example of just judgment. He said: “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” (John 5:30) The only cure for a judgmental spirit is a more sensitive ear toward God. The conclusions we come to, the decisions we make, must reflect the wisdom that comes from above if they are to be just.
Apart from a sensitive walk in the Spirit of God we will pass over judgment and the love of God.
God’s judgment is always perfectly calibrated. A “just weight” is His delight. He sees with perfect clarity what the mind of man misses. His verdict is always according to the truth. He does not make educated guesses. He does not jump to conclusions. He is not the slightest bit off in His assessment. His mind is never hardened in pride. Without His input, we are wise in our own conceits and puffed up by our knowledge. We say that we see when we are blind. We run when we have not been sent. We speak before we have fully heard. We are partial in our judgment.
Our greatest need in judging justly is to hear fully from God. To hear from God we cannot lean to our understanding. We must keep a healthy skepticism toward our own thoughts until His true word descends upon us. We must throughout any inner deliberations be willing to ask, “Lord, is that You or me?” We must be willing for God to inspect and examine our thoughts and see if there be anything in them that would prevent us from placing His perfect weight in the balance pan.
Our greatest need in judging justly is to hear fully from God.
True justice depends upon right judgment. Doing justly and loving mercy requires that we walk humbly before our God. Without such humility there will be no “judgment in our goings.” With our ear bowed toward heaven, we must always be asking for the perfect and just weight that is in the Lord’s bag. “A just weight and balance are the LORD’S: all the weights of the bag are his work.” (Proverbs 16:11)
Let us be people who commit to walking more softly, more carefully with God. Let us listen to Him and others better, speaking more prayerfully and cautiously, and distinguishing more clearly between the heat of our own spirit and the holiness of His Spirit. No matter how well we think we are aligning ourselves with scripture, may we never mistake our will for God’s will, and our mind for God’s mind. May such a walk spare us from playing the Pharisee and being in line for a judgment of our own that we didn’t see coming.