“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” - John 7:24
One of the biggest misconceptions is that Christianity is a religion. That comes from sociology whereby sociologists categorize and lump all the world religions together and because they know no different they include Christianity. Nevertheless, let me point out that religion involves a system of rules and regulations empowered by laws and commandments. In short, religion is “do” oriented – whereby man to tries to get to God. What sets Christianity apart from all the world religions is that Christianity is a relationship based upon grace, mercy, and forgiveness empowered by love. In short, Christianity is “done” oriented – whereby God came down to man in order to be the “author and finisher” of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).
Just because all other world religions claim to be worshippers of a god it appears to the world that Christianity is just another religion – one among many. This demonstrates that outward appearances can be very deceptive.
In 1884 a 15-year-old boy died of Typhoid fever. Days after the funeral his grieving parents met with the president of Harvard University, Charles Eliot. Mr. Eliot met with the boy’s parents, who were dressed in ordinary attire, and he asked what he could do. They expressed their desire to fund a memorial in their son’s name. Mr. Eliot hastily said, “Perhaps you have in mind a scholarship?” The parents said, “We were thinking of something more substantial than that... perhaps a building.” In a condescending way Mr. Eliot explained to the parents that their desire would be too expensive, and so they departed. Later the next year, Mr. Eliot learned that the parents had gone elsewhere and established a $26 million memorial in the name of their son Leland Stanford Junior, better known today as Stanford University!
Our opening scripture is one of the lesser-known passages in the New Testament. The Lord Jesus spoke these words to correct the Jewish religious leaders of His day. These law-oriented religionists criticized Jesus for making a man completely well on the Sabbath. They could not rejoice in the healing of this infirmed man by the hand of Jesus. They wandered away from the mercy that God delights to show (Hosea 6:6; Matthew 12:7) and had exalted the Sabbath day above hurting souls. To them it appeared that Jesus broke the Sabbath, but Jesus was Lord over the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8).
If you have not noticed, Jesus is instructing us to judge – but only according to righteousness. Are you surprised? Most people are. If we find ourselves in a sticky situation it is better not to judge at all (Matthew 7:1), but if one is in the place where a judgment must be made. Let us take the words of our Lord and judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteously according to mercy, grace, and love.
David C. Hale, Pastor Email: firstname.lastname@example.org