Making Right Judgments and Building Trust in A Foggy World
"But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NKJV"20 When He saw their faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”22 But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts? 23 Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk’? 24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”25 Immediately he rose up before them, took up what he had been lying on, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. 26 And they were all amazed, and they glorified God and were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen strange things today!” Luke 5:20-26 NKJV"46 Then a dispute arose among them as to which of them would be greatest. 47 And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a little child and set him by Him, 48 and said to them, “Whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be great.” Luke 9:46-48 NKJV
Have you ever wished that you could know what someone was thinking? I know that I have. It is difficult for us to make judgments because we cannot see as well as Jesus can. Even the first verse in 1 Samuel 16:7 speaks the truth when it tells us that "man looks at the outward appearance." It doesn't mean that it is wrong to determine things by outward appearance. That verse was aimed at Samuel's vanity. Samuel would have probably chosen the first born and the strongest. No, Samuel couldn't see clearly enough to make the right decision. Therefore, God assisted him. At that time, David was just a very young man and apparently wasn't as blessed with the things men (mankind) tend to value, at least for that day and time. This was a special circumstance. So if Samuel had to observe the sons of Jesse instead of getting a revelation from God, how would he do it? Making judgments are very difficult. It takes time and patience to see observable fruit in a person. So how are we to judge? Are we to judge? Since we don't have the ability to see the heart, how can we make judgments rightly?
Jesus said as recorded in John 7:
10 But when His brothers had gone up, then He also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret. 11 Then the Jews sought Him at the feast, and said, “Where is He?” 12 And there was much complaining among the people concerning Him. Some said, “He is good”; others said, “No, on the contrary, He deceives the people.”13 However, no one spoke openly of Him for fear of the Jews.14 Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught. 15 And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?”16 Jesus[c] answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me.17 If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. 18 He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him. 19 Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill Me?”20 The people answered and said, “You have a demon. Who is seeking to kill You?”21 Jesus answered and said to them, “I did one work, and you all marvel. 22 Moses therefore gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 23 If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath? 24 Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” John 7:10-24 NKJV
So righteous judgment is the key. The question then may arise, "How can we judge righteously without seeing the heart as Jesus did?" Jesus was asking those who were accusing and ridiculing him to judge righteously. I don't think he would have said that if they weren't able. What did Jesus expect from them? I think the first example comes from Matthew 9 when Jesus quotes Hosea 6:6:
9 As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him.10 Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Matthew 9:9-13 NKJV
- If you look up this verse in Hosea 6:6, you may find that it doesn't line up exactly with Matthews record of what Jesus said:
- "For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice,
And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6 NASB (Masoretic)"For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, And the knowledge of God more than whole burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6 SAAS (Septuagint)
- The reason for that is because our Protestant bibles use the Masoretic Hebrew text as a basis for our Old Testament, which was organized between the 7th and 11th centuries. The early church spoke the Koine Greek language, and since that is the case, they used the Septuagint for their Old Testament source during that time. If your Bible does quote it accurately, the translator probably consulted the Septuagint when making that decision to translate. The Septuagint had a Hebrew basis for translation, but most of that has been lost. Most of the Hebrew documents found in the Dead Sea Scroll discovery actually lined up more with the Septuagint than the Masoretic text. That being said, they are both valuable for study and meditation. It is also said that Matthew was originally written in Hebrew. So it could be that Matthew knew of the Hebrew text that the Septuagint was based on.
So, when Jesus stated that he desired "mercy and not sacrifice" when quoting Hosea 6:6, what did He mean? How does this line up with how we should judge? Let's consider another text:
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them." Matthew 7:15-20 NKJV
You will know them by their fruits. What is a fruit? Webster defines fruit this way in his 1828 dictionary:
In a general sense, whatever the earth produces for the nourishment of animals, or for clothing or profit. Among the fruits of the earth are included not only corn of all kinds, but grass, cotton, flax, grapes and all cultivated plants. In this comprehensive sense, the word is generally used in the plural.
- In the old days, the word "corn" was used in the way we use "grain" today. So if you see the word "corn" in your KJV or Geneva Bible, just remember it means "grain," not a particular type of grain.
I think we can at least deduct from this that "fruit" is something that is useful and helpful to others. What kinds of things do you think Jesus was referring to when He mentioned "good fruit" and "bad fruit?" I think at least on the simplest level, we can say that "good and bad fruit" are illustrated in Matthew 5-7, which is the Sermon on the Mount. I think that would be a good place to start. I also think it would be good to look up the "fruit of the Spirit," and the "fruit of the flesh" as illustrated in Galatians 5:16-25.
"16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another." Galatians 5:16-25 NKJV
So what guide do we need to examine ourselves and those in the Church? The Sermon on the Mount and the text above would be a good starting spot. But remember that Jesus requires "self-examination" before we even think about pointing to a brother's fault.
“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." Matthew 7:1-5 NKJV
So it's okay to judge, but make sure it is righteous, fair, and patient. Such a method is seated in a heart of love for thy neighbor. As far as building trust, remember that if you have wronged a brother, it is his duty and should be his delight to forgive, but do not expect him to trust you automatically. Trust takes time to build. If I stole from you, do you think that you would trust me with guarding your house? Even if I had asked for forgiveness? No. And that's okay. It takes time to build trust. That is because all we can see is the "fruit" of one's labor and not his heart. God alone, as illustrated above, is the only one who can see the heart. It is God who changes it from "stone to flesh" (Ezekiel 36:26), and this is an "unseen" event until one acts upon that change. Therefore, if you are the offender who has asked for forgiveness, be patient with the one you have offended; Even if he has forgiven you. If you "bear fruit" that is righteous for a time, he will in time hopefully restore his confidence in you. If you are the offended party, forgive. Do not hold any ill will toward your fellow man. Don't forget that you were once an enemy of God who He forgave (Romans 5:10/ Colossians 1:21). But remember that once you forgive, it is okay to verify your confidence, for there are many swindlers and fakers out there. Be harmless as a dove, but shrewd as a snake (Matthew 10:16).