Judgment and the abuse of wisdom
Wisdom, understanding, and knowledge are all good gifts from God’s Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, when we use such gifts without the fear of the Lord in our hearts, we can become judgemental and condemning.
Exodus 31:3 NIV and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills–
Psalm 111:10 ESV The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!
The Bible points out that God gave mankind wisdom for the common good. It was meant to be used to build people up. On the other hand, human beings often use our wisdom to judge and tear other people down. Our judgments can be as subtle as off-the-cuff remarks, sarcastic comments or jokes about others, or as direct as bullying, hating, discrimination and cursing.
- Godly wisdom will say, “How can I judge this situation so that I can glorify God and honour others?”
- Worldly judgement will say, “How can I judge people so that I can glorify myself and dis-honour others?”
1 Corinthians 12:7-8 ESV To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit,
We resort to judging, mocking and criticising others when we hold on to:
- Pride: We look down and think we are better than others
- Bitterness: We haven’t forgiven those who have hurt us
- Worldly patterns: We blindly follow what other (ungodly) people do
- Guilt: We make others’ mistakes look worse so as to feel better about ours
- Fear: We are afraid of being overshadowed or overpowered by others
- Insecurity: We put others down to feel better about ourselves
None of these is based on an understanding of our identity in Christ and how to use the wisdom that God has given us.
Don’t push Jesus off His judgment seat
God has declared that Jesus, the perfect sinless Son of God, has been entrusted with judging every person on earth. Only Jesus has the right to judge us because He died to purchase us from eternal death. So then, how can the sinful who were purchased with the blood of Jesus, have the right to judge other sinners? We do not realise that by doing so, we push Jesus off His judgment seat and assume we can be the wiser, better god. We become our own idols and behave sacrilegiously!
John 5:22 ESV Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son,
Romans 14:10 ESV Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God;
Romans 2:1 ESV Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.
Correct of use of wisdom
1. To recognise and stand up against sin in the church
Believers are called to use our wisdom to judge other Christians when they fall into sin and dishonour God. God’s Word is the standard against which we are to judge other believers, and we can use that to teach, correct and encourage one another to do what is right in God’s eyes.
1 Corinthians 5:12 NLT It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning.
2 Timothy 3:16 ESV All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work.
2. To recognise our offenders’ perspectives and empathise
The gift of judgment is especially powerful when we use it to discern the deepest motives behind people’s behaviour and empathise with their fears, weaknesses and sorrows. Empathy is the ability to place ourselves in someone else’s shoes and understand their perspectives and feelings. It requires courage and compassion to empathise with the people that hurt us, but this is the example Jesus set for us when He hung on the cross. He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Condemnation is the quick and easier option, but it is not the example Jesus has asked us to follow.
John 7:24 NLT Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.”
Luke 23:34 ESV And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” …
3. To recognise and meet the needs of the poor
God’s heart is for the weak and downtrodden. He calls us to represent Him well in this aspect. Defend and help the poor and needy, and God will reward our love for others.
Proverbs 31:9 ESV Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Proverbs 19:17 ESV Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.
4. To recognise and test for spiritual truths
God also calls us to use wisdom to discern His will for us and test for spiritual deceptions in the church, distinguishing between good and evil. We are to judge spiritual revelations and distinguish between messages from the Holy Spirit or from Satan.
1 John 4:1 ESV Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
Only God’s opinion matters
Let us choose to hold back our opinions and judgments of other people. Our hearts are deceitful and will often mislead us to see the speck in people’s eyes while neglecting the log in our own eyes. Moreover, when we judge other people, we may indirectly judge God Himself. He allows both good and evil in this world for His higher purposes and we may judge things we do not understand.
Jeremiah 17:9 ESV The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
Matthew 7:3 ESV Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?
Isaiah 45:7 ESV I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things.
Let’s not be too quick to pass on our judgments, comments or opinions. God’s Word reminds us that He will judge any careless word we mutter. At the end of the day, it is only God’s opinion and judgment that really matters. He is in control at all times and we can certainly praise Him because of that.
Matthew 12:36-37 ESV I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Psalm 71:8 ESV My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day.
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