Word of the Week: Judgment

“Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment,” once quipped American author and scientist James Jay Horning.

Our Sunday morning Bible class at Wellandport has been studying Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Yesterday, we devoted the entire class to one verse. Matthew 7:6 that speaks to the issue of good judgment.

“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.”

It is interesting that Jesus issued this warning following His injunction against judging others. “Judge not that you be not judged.” People know that verse who know nothing else about the Bible. It is often misapplied whenever we condemn sin and error.

Jesus condemned censorious, hypocritical and hypercritical judgment. He warned against the petty fault finder looking for the flaws in others’ lives when they themselves have more serious sins that need correcting. Thus, the humorous picture of the one with a plank in his eye trying to remove the shaving from another’s eye.

Unmercifully judging motives, appearances, and inconsequential issues are wrong. It is opposed to the spirit of Christ. And will boomerang to your own judgment.

However, not all judging is sinful. Avoiding hogs and dogs requires good judgment and an exercise of discernment, perception, and knowledge.

Jesus used the illustration of hogs and dogs to represent that which would be unclean to the Jews. Dogs were not domesticated pets but were scavenger mongrels that roamed the streets eating garbage. Of course, pigs were unclean animals under Jewish law.

Jesus is talking about people who have as much appreciation for God’s Word as would a pig for pearls or a dog for a good meal. It requires judgment to identify those who fall within that category.

Some people are not prospects for the gospel message. It’s a waste of time to try and teach someone who is intellectually dishonest, morally depraved, or arrogantly and unwillingly impervious to the Word of God. Sadly, some people’s hearts are hardened and their minds closed to the Truth.

Of course, it requires judgment on our part to know when to move on and “shake the dust off our feet” (Matt. 10:14). This requires insight, understanding, and wisdom. Jesus’ admonition in this regard is helpful. “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” (Jn. 7:24).

There are many other judgments we must make in life. Judgments of biblical principles regarding right and wrong. The Bible is not a list of “do’s and don’ts.” Choices of friends, entertainment and leisure activities call for the exercise of good judgment.

Being a good steward of our time, treasure and talent again demand using the best judgment based on our abilities, skills, and opportunities. Different people will make different judgments.

Here’s the difficult challenge. There are many good choices that are neither right or wrong. Deciding which is the best requires serious thought and diligent effort. Furthermore, we must be charitable when others make different choices. Yet, there is a time to kindly, gently and lovingly offer wise counsel to our family, friends or brethren when their choices are leading them in the wrong direction. This, too, demands sound judgment on our part.

Wise judgment is necessary for knowing when and how to correct someone who is reckless and foolish. The wise man in Proverbs offers advice which seems contradictory on the surface.

Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
Lest you also be like him.

Answer a fool according to his folly,
Lest he be wise in his own eyes. (Prov. 26:4-5)

So, how do you know when to answer a fool and when not to? It requires good judgment based on the person, situation, and circumstance.

Judging is a necessary part of daily living. To grow in good judgment, pray for wisdom. Associate with prudent people. Seek the counsel of the Word. And “judge righteous judgment.”

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman


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