How Am I To Judge?
The Biblical Answer To Judging Our Brother.
This article examines another command of Yahushuah, our Lord ("Adonai") and the anointed One ("ha'Mashiach") of Elohim. He warns Bet Yeshurun Assembly (BYA) to be very careful about judging others: (Matthew 7:1) "Judge not, that you be not judged."
The King James Version (KJV) of the Bible translates "judge" from the Greek word "krino" (G2919). According to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, it properly means "to distinguish, in other words, decide (mentally or judicially)." It also implies "to try, condemn, punish, avenge, conclude, damn, decree, determine, esteem, judge, go to (sue at the) law, ordain, call in question, sentence to, and think." Wow, that's a wide spectrum of activities for disciples (students of the Word) to limit.
The Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament of Joseph H. Thayer explains that krino means "to separate, put asunder, to pick out, select, choose; to approve, esteem, to prefer; to be of opinion, deem, think, to be of opinion; to determine, resolve, decree; to judge." Similarly, a Greek-American Biblical scholar, Spiros Zodhiates, notes krino means "to divide, separate, make a distinction, came to a decision, judge, and try in a solemn judicial manner."
The KJV translates krino 116 times into the following forms: "judge (45x), judged (26x), judgeth (9x), judgest (6x) or judging (2x) and (7x) by its synonym "determined"; (5x) it is translated as some form of condemn; law (2x), questioned (2x), thought, avenged, damned, decreed, sentence and sue at law (1x)." This study will focus on the most frequent form, an action word, the verb "judge."
In Hebrew, "judge" is "shaphat" (H8199), a primitive root word that describes the act of "pronouncing a sentence (for or against)." (Strong's) It is used over 200 times in scripture and often refers to an act reserved for YAH. (Genesis 6:5) And Sarai said to Abram, "My wrong [be] upon you. I have given my maid into your bosom and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes. YAHUAH judge ("shaphat") between me and you!"
In the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), shaphat also implies "to vindicate or punish." (Strong's) This word also extends to certain actions related to governing people. Other meanings include: "to litigate (literally and figuratively, avenge, that condemn, contend, defend, execute, execute judgment, judge, be a judge, judgment, needs, plead, reason, rule." (Strong's) Is our Good Teacher saying we aren't to do any of these? Let's investigate scripture.
Paul writes: (1 Corinthians 6:1-5) "Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world? And, if the world krino by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know you not that we shall krino angels? How much more things that pertain to this life? If then you have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? No, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?"
Paul notes that as YAH's chosen people we are destined to judge. Indeed, Scripture describes such a man, who heard and settled disputes among Israel. (Exodus 18:13-16) It came to pass on the morrow that Moses sat to shaphat the people and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening. When Moses' father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, "What [is] this thing that you do to the people? Why do you sit yourself alone and all the people stand by you from morning unto even?" Moses said to his father in law, "Because the people come to me to inquire of Elohim. When they have a matter, they come to me and I judge between one and another. I do make [them] know the statutes of Elohim and His laws."
Certain Israelite leaders, known as judges ("shophetim") served in this capacity with YAH's backing and support. (Shophetim 2:16-19) "Nevertheless, YAHUAH raised up shophetim, who delivered them out of the hand of those who spoiled them. Yet they would not hearken unto their shophetim, but they went a whoring after other gods ("elohim") and bowed themselves to them. They turned quickly out of the Way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of YAHUAH; [but] they did not so. When YAHUAH raised them up shophetim, then YAHUAH was with the judge and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge. For, it repented YAHUAH because of their groans by reason of them who oppressed and vexed them. It came to pass, when the judge was dead, they returned and corrupted [themselves] more than their fathers, in following other elohim to serve them and to bow down to them. They ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way."
As supported in scripture, Yahushuah's disciples are taught that they will serve as judges. He then warns them about the consequences of how they will judge. (Matthew 7:2) "For with what judgment you krino, you shall be judged. And with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again."
Yahushuah's warning refers to how He will later judge them. Since how we judge will determine how YAH judges us, it behooves us to completely understand what the act of judging means. Webster's Dictionary defines "judge" as: "1. to hear and pass judgment on (persons or cases) in a court of law; 2. determine the winner of a contest or settle a controversy; 3. to decree; 4. to form an idea, opinion or estimate about (any matter); 5. to criticize or censure; and 6. to think or suppose." I can see how judging (hearing, discerning and speaking) about Torah (the teaching and instructions of Elohim) fits within that definition. But, what about the other defined activities, e. g. forming opinions, criticizing, censuring (condemning), supposing (assuming), or thinking rashly about the behaviors and motives of others? Is Yahushuah cautioning me about misjudging by these actions?
Indeed, I do well to avoid making declarations about people, particularly if my judgment is based on a faulty opinion. Even Yahushuah's disciples greatly erred in criticizing and censuring His friend's act: (Matthew 26:6-10) Now when Yahushuah was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, there came to Him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment and poured it on His head, as He sat [at meat]. But when His disciples saw [it], they had indignation, saying, "To what purpose [is] this waste? For, this ointment might have been sold for much and given to the poor." When Yahushuah understood [it], He said to them, "Why do you trouble the woman? For, she has wrought a good work upon me."
It's easy to observe and judge the idiosyncrasies and mannerisms of others. It's so much harder, however, to see my own faults and shortcomings. That's why I need to practice looking at myself in a mirror, introspectively examining myself for the faults I can so readily spot in others. Now is the time to answer the following questions, not on Judgment Day: (Matthew 7:3-4) "Why do you behold the mote (splinter) that is in your brother's eye, but consider not the beam that is in your own eye? Or, how will you say to your brother, 'Let me pull out the mote out of your eye.' And, behold, a beam [is] in your own eye? (Romans 14:4) "Who are you that judges another man's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Yea, he shall be holden up: for Elohim is able to make him stand." (Romans 14:10-13) "But why do you judge your brother? Or, why do you set at nought your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Mashiach. For it is written, [As] I live, says Adonai, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to Elohim. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to Elohim. Let us not therefore judge one another any more. But judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in [his] brother's way."
Heeding the constructive criticisms of a spouse, parents, siblings and close friends can also reveal our unnoticed personal flaws. And, we should always be open to and welcome the scriptural counsel of spiritual brothers and sisters within BYA. (Psalm 141:5) "Let the righteous smite me; [it shall be] a kindness. Let him reprove me; [it shall be] an excellent oil, [which] shall not break my head."
Yahushuah also teaches that we aren't to judge the faults of others, especially if we have the same problem, or worse, even more so. Did you ever seek a doctor's advice on controlling your weight? How much would you value his words, if you noticed he was obese? Or, would this biblical proverb come to mind? (Luke 4:23) "Physician heal thyself!" It only makes good sense that we take care of our own defects, before aspiring to correct the faults of others. (John 8:7) "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."
Focusing attention on the problems of others rather than fixing our own is quite natural as this ancient proverb attests: "The cobbler always wears the worst shoes." Yet those guilty of this behavior are worthy of Yahushuah's harsh admonition: (Matthew 7:5) "You hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of your own eye; and then you shall see clearly to cast out the mote out of your brother's eye."
Scripture provides many examples of scribes and pharisees hypocritically judging. BYA likewise should avoid being overly concerned about the faults of others as we ignore our own offenses. Be cautious of arrogantly judging while we dismiss our own shortcomings, a trap of the proud and conceited: (Luke 18:11) The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, "Elohim, I thank you that I am not as other men [are], extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican."
Pray for wisdom and understanding of Yahushuah's command about judging others. According to Luke's Gospel, the mote (a small fault) that we see in another is likened to a beam (a greater fault) that we overlook in ourself. (Luke 6:37-42) "Judge not and you shall not be judged. Condemn not and you shall not be condemned. Forgive and you shall be forgiven. Give and it shall be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you mete withal it shall be measured to you again." And He spoke a parable to them, "Can the blind lead the blind? Shall they not both fall into the ditch? The disciple is not above his master, but every one who is perfect shall be as his master. And why behold you the mote that is in your brother's eye, but perceive not the beam that is in your own eye? Either how can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in your eye,' when you yourself behold not the beam that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of your own eye, and then you shall see clearly to pull out the mote that is in your brother's eye."
Anyone about to form an opinion about someoine else ought to think about themselves first. Remember this adage? "If you point a finger at someone else, you point three fingers at yourself." Heed Paul's adminition: (Romans 2:1-6) "Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whosoever you are who judges. For wherein you judge another, you condemn yourself. For you who judges does the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of Elohim is according to truth against them who commit such things. And think you this, O man, who judges them who do such things and do the same, that you shal escape the judgment of Elohium? Or, do you despise the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of Elohim leads you to repentance? But after your hardness and impenitent heart treasures up unto yourself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of Elohim, who will render to every man according to his deeds."
It is much harder to protect someone's reputation, to love our neighbor like ourself, and to look past certain human flaws, in others words, try to see Yah in others. Do you want to get out of a habit of judging others? Try defending the weak, or stick-up for those less fortunate. Realize that the person we may not naturally like or want to hang-out with, just might be a dear friend of Yahushuah.
Check your step: Are you willing to be treated by Yah as you treat others in judgment? Or do you complain to others, or try to counsel your brother on an issue you haven't resolved yourself? (1 Corinthians 4:4-7) "For I know nothing by myself. Yet am I not hereby justified. But He who judges me is Adonai. Therefore, judge nothing before the time until Adonai come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts. Then shall every man have praise of Elohim. These things brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and [to] Apollos for your sakes that you might learn in us not to think [of men] above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another. For who makes you to differ [from another]? And what have you that you did not receive? Now if you did receive [it], why do you glory as if you had not received [it]?"
Does this mean we are to ignore or disregard obvious behavior which conflicts with Elohim's teachings and instructions? Perhaps not, but before you speak, or react consider this warning from Yahushuah: (Matthew 7:6) "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you."
In scripture, dogs and swine (pigs) are unclean animals and unfit as food for humans. (Leviticus 11:4-7; 11:27) Metaphorically, these animals depict obstinate, impenitent people. For example, a dog is a term used to describe an infidel. (Exodus 11:7) "But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast that you may know how that YAHUAH does put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel." (Matthew 15:26) But he answered and said, "It is not meet to take the childrens' bread and to cast [it] to dogs." A dog also describes a male prostitute (Deuteronomy 23:18) "You shall not bring the hire of a whore or the price of a dog into the house of YAHUAH your Elohim for any vow. For, even both these [are] abomination unto YAHUAH your Elohim."
Yahushuah speaks to a dog's nature, its inclination to repeat foolishness. In scripture, a dog refers infidels, or male prostitutes. (Proverb 26:11) "As a dog returns to his vomit, [so] a fool returns to his folly." In scripture, a swine is likened to someone who lack discretion (Proverb 11:22) "[As] a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, [so is] a fair woman who is without discretion."
In short, our Good Teacher instructs us to not give that which is holy ("set apart") to dogs ("infidels"), nor cast pearls (your wealth; i. e. "good works") before swine ("those without good judgment). The people, who lack the sensitivity to avoid offending others, are lacking the discretion to appreciate scriptural-based truths. Be forewarned you may waste your breath and energy speaking with such people who may listen with open ears, but with stiff necks return to their old practices. (2 Peter 2:22) "For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known [it], to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it is happened to them according to the true proverb, 'The dog [is] turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.'" Impure and coarse people can't grasp the wisdom of the Word of Truth. They tend to view good counsel (reproof), which is a holy thing, with contempt and even turn viciously upon you for speaking to them. (Proverb 23:9) "Speak not in the ears of a fool. For, he will despise the wisdom of your words." (Proverb 9:8) "Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate you. Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you."
Did you notice the ending to that last proverb? Pearls, like Yah's teachings) are priceless. We are to treasure these as gifts from Elohim. If we share these with another Believer in ha'Mashiach there's a world of difference. (Proverb 25:12) "[As] an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, [so is] a wise reprover upon an obedient ear."
So, when a spiritual brother or sister approaches and asks for your opinion, ideas or thoughts on a personal matter, if you turn them toward a scriptural answer ... that's a good step toward judging rightly. We can truly help a neighbor as a judge. (Isaiah 11:4) "But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth."
Being asked to judge a matter, however, is a great responsibility.Take care to serve in that capacity with moderation and love, not harshness. Keep in mind, Yah's righteous standards: (Deuteronomy 16:18) Judges and officers shall you make in all your gates, which YAHUAH your Elohim gives you, throughout your tribes. They shall judge the people with just judgment. You shall not wrest judgment. You shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift. For, a gift does blind the eyes of the wise and pervert the words of the righteous. That which is altogether just shall you follow that you may live and inherit the land which YAHUAH your Elohim gives you."
Be very slow in censuring the behavior of a neighbor. Make it evident that you do so reluctantly and without exageration. (2 Chronicles 19:5-7) And Yahoshaphat set judges in the land throughout all the fenced cities of Judah, city by city, and said to the judges, "Take heed what you do. For, you judge not for man, but for YAHUAH, who [is] with you in the judgment. Wherefore now let the fear of YAHUAH be upon you. Take heed and do [it]. For [there is] no iniquity with YAHUAH our Elohim, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts."
Keep your privilege of helping a person in judging a matter to yourself, just between you and them. (Leviticus 19:15-16) "You shall do no unrighteousness in judgment. You shall not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: [but] in righteousness you shalt judge your neighbor. You shall not go up and down [as] a talebearer among your people. Neither, shalt you stand against the blood of your neighbour. I [am] YAHUAH."
Are you looking for someone to assist you with a spiritual matter? Do you have a question regarding a physical or spiritual application of Yah's Word? Consider speaking with the pastor of BYA (ObadiYah), or a member of BYA's Ecclesial Council (brothers Jory or Curt, or sister Kim). They are entrusted with an important responsibiltiy, the matter of judging well as exemplified in ancient Israel: (Deuteronomy 1:16-17) I charged your judges at that time, saying, "Hear [the causes] between your brethren, and judge righteously between [every] man and his brother, and the stranger [that is] with him. You shall not respect persons in judgment; [but] you shall hear the small as well as the great. You shall not be afraid of the face of man. For, the judgment [is] Elohim's and the cause that is too hard for you, bring [it] unto Me, and I will hear it."
This mediation resource at BYA is available to all members, young or old, single or married, rich or poor, male or female. There is no discrimination within the Assembly of Elohim. If your issue is with a brother or sister at BYA, don't worry if you cannot resolve the dispute amongst yourselves (see Matthew 18:15). Speak with pastor ObadiYah to seek a way to resolve the matter in love. All benefit when BYA properly judges: (Deuteronomy 4:5-8) "Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as YAHUAH my Elohim commanded me that you should do so in the land where you go to possess it. Keep therefore and do [them]; for this [is] your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, 'Surely this great nation [is] a wise and understanding people.' For, what nation [is there so] great, who [has] Elohim [so] near to them, as YAHUAH our Elohim [is] in all [things that] we call upon him [for]? And what nation [is there so] great, that has statutes and judgments [so] righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?"
Amongst our fellowship, we are obligated to address behaviors, which deviate from YAHUAH's Way of Life. His righteous standards bring well-being into BYA. Inform our pastor of problems so that appropriate steps can be taken for repentance and correction. Paul speaks volumes concerning this aspect of judging : (1Corinthians 5:9-13). "I wrote to you in an epistle not to company with fornicators. Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters. For, then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one no not to eat. For, what have I to do to judge them also that are without? Do you not judge them who are within But them who are without, Elohim judges. Therefore, put away from among yourselves that wicked person." (Deuteronomy 13:14) "Then you shall enquire, make search and ask diligently."
Before passing judgment upon any corporate matter, BYA will thoroughly investigate the merit of any disclosure to get all the facts straight. An Assembly is to be wise, discreet, competent, fair, above coruption, and rely on testimony of more than just one reliable witness. The spiritual implications from loss of fellowship is indeed high as were the physical implications within ancient Israel. (Deuteronomy 17:4-6) "And it be told you and you have heard [of it], and enquired diligently and, behold [it be] true [and] the thing certain [that] such abomination is wrought in Israel: Then shall you bring forth that man or that woman, which committed that wicked thing, to your gates, [even] that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, until they die. At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he who is worthy of death be put to death. [But] at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death."
Scripture also warns about bearing false witness: (Deuteronomy 19:15-19) One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sins. At the mouth of two witnesses or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established. If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him [that which is] wrong; Then both the men, between whom the controversy [is], shall stand before YAHUAH, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days; and the judges shall make diligent inquisition. And, behold, [if] the witness [be] a false witness, [and] has testified falsely against his brother; then you shall do to him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother. So shalt you put the evil away from among you."
In other words, to serve well as a judge requires relying upon righteous witnesses: (Exodus 23:1-3) "You shalt not raise a false report. Put not your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. You shalt not follow a multitude to [do] evil. Neither shalt you speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest [judgment]. Neither shalt you countenance a poor man in his cause."
In summary, don't spread untrue reports, require honesty in all proceedings, and judge impartially (decide a matter on its true merits). May BYA truly embrace and follow the principles that YAH established centuries ago. And may He serve as our role model for judging: (Isaiah 11:1-5) "There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse and a Branch shall grow out of His roots. The spirit of YAHUAH shall rest upon Him. The spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of YAHUAH shall make Him of quick understanding in the fear of YAHUAH. He shall not judge after the sight of His eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of His ears. But with righteousness shall He judge the poor and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth. He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth. With the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked. Righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins, and faithfulness the girdle of His reins."
All should know that previous scripture passage describes our King and Redeemer, Yahushuah ha'Mashiach of Natzereth: (Deuteronomy 32:4) "[He is] the Rock. His work [is] perfect. For, all His ways [are] judgment. Elohim of truth and without iniquity, just and right [is] He."
While we reside and live on earth, we can expect to judge and be judged. As we do so, may we remember our ultimate Judge: (Isaiah 26:8-9) "Yea, in the way of your judgments, O YAHUAH, have we waited for you. The desire of [our] soul [is] to your name and to the remembrance of ou. With my soul have I desired you in the night. Yea, with my spirit within me will I seek you early. For, when your judgments [are] in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness."
"Please Adonai Yahushuah help us to judge in accordance to the principles of Elohim. May we look at everyone and see you in them. And may your mercy be upon us all." Shalom, Curt
Thoughts for Meditation"Think like a wise man, but communicate in the language of the people." William Butler Yeats
"The biggest obstacle to learning is listening with ears to hear." Cary Holbert
"Seek first to understand, then to be understood." Stephen R. Covey