When I lived in the Chicago area, I was called to serve jury duty several times. Usually, the parties would settle out of court, and I would receive my $18 and be free to go. But one case went to trial, and I was selected to be on the jury. The case was frivolous and should have never been allowed to clutter up the court system for five years.

The outcome doesn’t really matter, but the judge’s name caught my attention, “Willie B. Wright.” In case you don’t see it, let me spell it out: “Will he be right?” An excellent name for a judge on Earth.

The other night, I was at a social gathering and having a discussion with a man who turned out to be a fellow follower of Christ. He apologized when he wanted to go to the bar and get another drink. He said, “God’s working on me with this!” I immediately replied, “Do I look like a judge? There are plenty of things God is working with me on.”

Many people are judging others these days, especially on social media. Who do they think they are? What I don’t like is when someone gets mad at me and accuses me of judging them. I understand it’s their defense mechanism when they feel uncomfortable or guilty. But there is a huge difference between judging and discerning the fruit of someone’s life.

A judge’s role is to make sure the person on trial gets a fair hearing according to the law. To maintain order in the court, give instructions to the jury, and after the jury has reached a decision, determine the proper punishment if needed.

Exposing the fruit of someone’s life does not determine punishment for how they are living their life. So, it is not “judging” them. In fact, the Bible tells us to.

15-20 “Be on your guard against false religious teachers, who come to you dressed up as sheep but are really greedy wolves. You can tell them by their fruit. Do you pick a bunch of grapes from a thorn-bush or figs from a clump of thistles? Every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree is incapable of producing bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit. The tree that fails to produce good fruit is cut down and burnt. So you may know men by their fruit.” Mat. 7:16-20 (JBP)
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Mat. 7:1-5 (NIV)

The ultimate Judge is our Holy God. For only He knows the heart of a man.

There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor? Jam. 4:12 (NIV)

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