Religion Magazine

Righteous Judgment

By Ldsapologetics
 "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment."  John 7:24
In the Joseph Smith Translation you will find Jesus saying that we are to "Judge righteously" though next to no one understands what this really means.  A laundry list of people I have met whole heartedly believe this means to judge the sins of others "that they may repent."
This could not be more wrong.
 "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."  Matthew 7:1-5
Jesus is telling us that judging the sins of others is akin to criticizing the mote in your brothers eye while you have a beam in your own because we are all sinners.  It's not your job to point out the sins of others, it's your job to deal with and correct you own sins.
What Jesus means by judging righteously is this; imagine you are a butcher and your thumb is on the scales, you can weigh down one side in your favor or you could weigh down the other side in favor of your customer.  Weighing down the scale in favor of your customer is "judging righteously."
Or lets go with an example: In the Grace Awakening by Charles Swindoll he writes about how he failed to judge righteously, or judge favorably as it has been known in Judaism for thousands of years, Swindoll was teaching at a Bible study conference and he noticed a man who kept falling asleep through his lectures day after day, Swindoll concluded the man must be a "Carnal Christian" meaning he spoke one way and lived another.  Then on the last day the mans wife approached Swindoll after his lecture and told Swindoll that her husband was the one who wanted to go, it was his last wish, he had terminal cancer and even though his pain meds made him sleepy and embarassed him he still wanted to attend.
Swindoll felt like an ass.  Because he had been so quick to judge unrighteously and his unrighteous judgment made him look and feel like a fool.
Judging favorably, judging righteously means that when you are moving furniture down the street and you see someone from church drive right on by without stopping you say "Maybe they were going to work or a Doctor's Appointment.  Rather than, "Hey they kept driving just to avoid helping me!"  Or worse.  Judging righteously means when you don't get an invitation to a friends wedding you say "Maybe they could only afford to invite just a few people."  Rather than, "They're not really my friend, they don't want me there, I'm not that important to them."
The point is in the courtroom of our minds the prosecution always has an easy job and the defendants are swiftly convicted and sentenced.  And that is not the way it should work.  I'm not saying to perform mental acrobatics to avoid consigning guilt but at least put up a worthy defense don't allow the courtroom of your mind to be some kangaroo court where all are guilty until and if proven innocent.
Judging favorably is something that is intrinsic to Jewish culture and something we gentiles know little about but this is where it is important because without this understanding you may walk away from certain General Conference talks or church talks with the impression that your job is to point out every sin you see.  Which could not be further from the truth according to Jesus Himself.
You can't condone evil action but they are easier to forgive once you realize things like "Maybe he didn't realize how hurtful and harmful his actions would be."  Or, "Maybe they didn't understand what the repercussions would be."
No one likes to be harshly judged and often the harshest judges are those who never received mercy themselves and have no idea how or why they even should extend it to others.  The people who need mercy the most are the merciless. 
There is an important difference between what The Lord meant when He said to judge righteously and what so many interpret as judging righteously.

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