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Home Group – Tipping The Scales In Their Favour

by | Thu, Jul 30 2015

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Tipping The Scales In Their Favor

Imagine this series of experiences happening to you; you’re getting ready for church and when you arrive at church, someone asks you some pointed questions about a recent situation in your life you’d shared with them and their questions leave you thinking they’re questioning whether your account is correct. While you’re greeting people, you reach to shake the hand of a new person but they don’t respond and leave you standing with your hand suspended in space as though you have leprosy and then when you’re driving home, someone cuts you off and you have to swerve madly to avoid a collision.

The normal response to these kinds of irritations – for that’s all they really are, irritations – is to simply judge the person critiquing your version of events as to the situation you’d been involved in as ignorant and offensive, that the person who refused to shake your hand in greeting as patently rude and offensive; and the lunatic driver who cut you off is irresponsible and dangerous and should lose their license.

One of the biggest areas of controversy in the church today is the area of righteous judgment. We live in a world that celebrates and encourages some of the most heinous and wicked sins imaginable and this same world that denies the existence of God, denies the authority of God’s Word and despises those who love and believe in God and His Word, is the same world that quotes Yeshua’s words, “Do not judge” when we believers speak out against their sin and wickedness. They quote those words in a bid to shut us up, but what exactly did Yeshua mean when He spoke those words?

When it comes to ‘judging others’ there are generally 3 opinions.

1. We have no right to make any kind of judgment on other people because hey…we all sin.

2. We have no right to say that the deeds of others is sin, to some people what they’re doing is normal, we live in the 21st century and we have to get with the times. Live and let live!

3. We need to call a spade a spade and call sin out…no compromise allowed.

But there are many different kinds of judgment in the Bible, and they are;

Judgment by God against unrepentant sinners (Heb 9:27; Rev 20:11-15)

Judgment by God against fallen angelic beings (Rev 20:7-10)

Judgment by church leadership over sin within the body (Matt 18:15-20; 1 Pet 4:17; 1 Cor 5:12-13)

Judgment upon nations for their national sins (Rom 1:18-32)

Judgment upon Yeshua on behalf of sinners (1 Pet 2:21-24)

Judgment upon leaders within the church (Jam 3:1; 1 Pet 4:17; 2 Pet 2:3)

Judgment by individual believers for their own sins (1 Cor 11:28, 31; 1 Jn 5:16-17)

Judgment of individual believer’s by Yeshua at the Bema Seat (1 Cor 3:12-15; 2 Cor 5:10)

Judgment by way of consequences (Rom 1)

Then there’s a general kind of judgment that we engage in throughout our day and that’s what we’re going to look at.

Daily circumstances really do ruffle our feathers and we can be very critically minded about the motivations of what other people say and do and this is where Yeshua’s command to not judge comes into play and this is seen very clearly in the context of John 7.

John 7:24, ‘Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.’

The subject of judging or not judging has caused more angst and frustration within the church than possibly any other subject but that’s mostly because we’ve not clearly understood that there are different kinds of judgment for different kinds of things. Yeshua never taught us to turn a blind eye to sin so therefore, calling sin what it is – which is making a judgment on a particular thing or behaviour – isn’t in and of itself a sin.

The Real Problem

The real problem with making righteous judgments comes from the motivations of our own heart and because we’re talking about judgment in the little daily moments of our lives that’s where we’ll focus our study.

Because we like to study Scripture through a Hebrew lens, it’s well worth the effort to take a look at this kind of ‘judging’ from a Jewish perspective.

About 120 years before Yeshua was born, there was a rabbi whose name was Yehoshua ben Perachia and he said, “Judge each person with the scales weighted in their favour.”

If you lived in ancient times you’d have seen shoppers in the marketplace buying produce with the use of scales. One one side of the scale was a weight that was worth a certain amount of money, and on the other side of the scale, the object being purchased was place..say a bag of grain. A decent and friendly shopkeeper might put a little bit extra into the bag allowing the scale to tip past the balance point to make sure you really did get all you were paying for. He might allow the scale to tip in your favour.

The point of rabbi Perachia is that when it comes to judging other people’s actions, we should let the scales tip in their favour…in other words, give them the benefit of the doubt.

Yeshua was also a rabbi, He was very learned – much to the surprise of the other religious leaders He interacted with – and He was no stranger to the teaching of rabbi’s before Him. So when He taught about righteous judging, it was very much according to earlier rabbinic teachings though vastly different from much of the teaching from His contemporaries which is why His words were so refreshing and new by comparison.

Listen to His words in Luke 6:37-38, “Do not judge and you will not be judged; and do not condemn and you will not be condemned; pardon and you will be pardoned. Give and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure – pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”

The context of this verse is not money as many have tried to make it, rather it’s about righteous judgment of other people. It’s about not being judgmental or critical, it’s about not being nitpicky and spiteful. If you read the verses beforehand, you’ll see that the context is about treating others kindly, not being vengeful, about being grateful and merciful to others in the same way the Lord has been toward us.

Here’s an ancient rabbinic parable to illustrate the point.

A man worked on a farm for three months. On the eve of the Day of Atonement, he went to his employer and asked for his wages to take home to his wife and children. The farm owner said to him, “I have no money to give you.”

The farm hand protested, “Well, give me some of the crops I’ve helped grow.”

The farmer replied, “I have none!”

The worker cried, “Well then, give me some of the sheep that I’ve helped to raise!” The farmer shrugged and said that he had nothing he could give him. So the farm hand gathered up his belongings and went home with a sorrowful heart.

After the holidays, the employer came to the farmhand’s house with all of his wages, along with three carts full of extra gifts. They had dinner together, and as they ate, the farm owner asked, “When I told you I had no money, what did you suspect?”

“I thought you had seen a bargain and used all your cash to buy it,” the worker replied.

“And what did you think when I said that I had no crops?”

“I thought perhaps they were all leased to others.”

“And what did you think when I said I had no animals?”

“I thought that you may have dedicated them to the Temple.”

The farmer answered him, “It was just this way. My son wouldn’t study the Scriptures, and the day you came to me, I had rashly dedicated all my possessions to God. But, just a couple days ago, I was absolved of my vow so that now I can pay you. And as for you, just as you have judged me favorably, may the Lord judge you favorably!”

In the parable, rather than the farm hand thinking the worst of the farm owner, he immediately gave him the benefit of the doubt as to why he had acted the way he did. This is what it means to weigh the scales in his favour.

The last line in the parable is almost the same as the words of Yeshua; the parable says, “You have judged me favourably, may the Lord judge you favourably,” and Yeshua’s words say, “For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”

This isn’t really earth-shattering, but it’s important for believer’s to grasp and here’s why…the natural response of the unsaved is to judge poorly. If someone cuts them off in traffic, the usual response is to respond with an expletive or hand gesture. If someone doesn’t shake their hand, they might respond with a verbal insult or judge them as thinking they’re too good to touch them and are ‘racist’ or ‘bigoted’. If someone questions them over some particular circumstances they found themselves in, they might think the other person is automatically blaming them for it.

This is not the way believer’s should automatically respond, if we have God the Holy Spirit living within us, then we’re supposed to respond more like Yeshua would respond.

If we re-look at those normal, daily scenarios and tip the weight scales in the other person’s favour we might respond like this…

Perhaps the person whose seeking more information about our particular circumstance has some practical assistance they can provide to us but needs more detail in order to be sure. They might just want to be better informed in order to lend a hand.

Maybe the person who refused to shake hands is really shy about meeting new people, or maybe they suffer with OCD and really struggle to come in contact with other people or maybe they have a skin condition that is embarrassing and they don’t want anyone else to see it.

Maybe the person who was thoughtless in traffic was rushing to get to the hospital to see a friend or family member who was in an accident or perhaps his wife was rushed to hospital in labour and he didn’t want to miss the birth of his baby. Perhaps he was desperate to simply get to the bathroom!

It’s not actually important what the other person’s motives are, what’s important is ours!

We sometimes have days where we’re busy and unintentionally treat other people a little carelessly. Some days we can be so concerned with the struggles of our own life and families that we might cut other’s off in traffic but we don’t do it deliberately. Perhaps we’re self conscious for various reasons and withdraw from people not because we don’t like them, but they might not know that. If we want others to give us the benefit of the doubt in our normal daily lives, shouldn’t we extend the same grace to them? This is what it means to weight the scales in the other persons favour.

This is something we can work on every day…some days it’ll be easy, some days we’ll forget and have to ask the Lord to forgive us and help us do better next time but it’s a mindset we need to cultivate and when we do, we’ll look more and more like our Messiah.

When Yeshua talked to His audiences about “judging favorably,” that is, assuming the best about other’s intentions rather than jumping to an unsavoury conclusion right off the bat, He was teaching in complete accord with the teachings of other rabbis who’d lived long before Him, but His ideas on judging have a slightly different slant. When we judge others favorably, we’re assuming that a person is basically good, however, Yeshua’s understanding of humanity was a lot less optimistic. He had already said that there are none good but God (Luke 18:19), rather, His words about judging are based on knowing that your neighbour is a sinner and giving them the benefit of the doubt anyway because you know that you’re also a sinner just like them.

If we extend condemnation and judgment on them, we are bringing condemnation and judgment on ourselves as well. We know how much we need mercy, grace and forgiveness for our own sins, weaknesses and failings and as such, we need to extend mercy, grace and forgiveness to others as well. The motivations of another person’s heart is really only known and understood by two people, God and the person themselves. Likewise, the only people who know and understand the motivations of our own heart is ourselves and God and that’s more than enough to deal with.




Based on the writing of Lois Tverberg