In Genesis 1 we are told God made man in His image. Included would be the ability to reach a conclusion from observable evidences. The ability to reason manifests itself every time we make a judgment about a person or thing. Therefore, with this ability comes grave responsibility. It is such a serious a responsibility that there are admonitions in scripture warning us about how to judge.
For instance, Jesus warns, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24). Jesus’ statement implies that mankind will make judgments from time to time.
The acceptability of an action or thing to God (is it righteous) is to be the basis of these judgments. Peter and John challenged the Sanhedrin of their day to judge if it was right to obey God rather than man (Acts 4:19). Paul asked the Corinthian brethren the rhetorical question, “Do you not judge those who are within the church?” (1 Corinthians 5:12). He then instructs Christians not to go to law against one another but to let brethren judge in any legal dispute that may arise (1 Corinthians 6:1-8). In 1 Corinthians 10:15 Paul continues by saying, “I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say.” Then he charges the brethren to judge whether it is proper for a Christian woman to pray to God unveiled (1 Corinthians 11:13). As we look to these many admonitions to “judge,” it is undeniable that men can and do, in fact must, make judgments. Therefore, those who would be righteous must judge with righteous judgment.
Wait until all evidence is in
When Jesus said that we are not to judge according to appearance, He was warning us not to make judgments before we have understood all the evidence. Paul makes this point concerning his own stewardship as an apostle of the Lord. In first Corinthians chapter four, he encourages them to accept him as a steward of the mysteries of God (vs. 1). He then says a steward must be found faithful (vs. 2). Next, he addresses the possibility man’s judgment can be faulty by saying, “But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord” (vvs. 3-4). Paul knew judgment without understanding could be faulty, hence his statement about man’s judgment. His own judgment of his stewardship did not justify (declare him righteous). Only the Lord can justify. The reason man’s judgment may be faulty is because of his propensity for prejudice (Proverbs 24:23).
Paul concludes the thought by saying, “Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God” (vs. 5). The way righteous judgments are made is by considering the evidence as Paul illustrates with the judgment of the Lord.