Jesus has warned people of the need to be careful in making judgments. John 7:24 says, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgments.” But, rash judgments form conclusions only based on how things appear to us in a given moment. They are hurried rather than studied. They are emotional rather than careful. They are selfish rather than loving.
1) The reality of rash judgments. Rash judgments happen all around us. People see or hear something and then act as if they know everything about a situation. It happens in families. It happens in churches. It happens among friends. It happens in the workplace. It happens everywhere people make judgments!
A biblical example of a rash judgment is found in Acts 21. The apostle Paul arrived in Jerusalem and greeted the elders in the Jerusalem church. Because of some false accusations that had been spread in the city about Paul, they suggested that he perform a Jewish custom to demonstrate that he was not hostile toward the Law of Moses. However, while Paul was in the temple, some Jews accused Paul of bringing a Gentile into the temple and defiling the temple (notice verse 28). Then, notice the commentary that the author gives about this situation in verse 29: “For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.”
2) The danger of rash judgments. Rash judgments hurt people. First, they hurt your soul whenever you are guilty of making them. For, making a rash judgment puts you in violation of Jesus’ command to judge with righteous judgment rather than based on appearance. And, God warns us all that the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). In addition, your rash judgment makes you look foolish and will bring shame upon you. Proverbs 18:13 says, “He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him.”
Second, rash judgments hurt other people. They often result in gossip and the destruction of another person’s reputation. Some rash judgments have even led to people committing suicide and being physically harmed. For instance, after the Jews saw Trophimus with Paul in the city, they supposed Paul had brought him into the temple. And, after they made this rash judgment, it all escalated to the point that there was a great riot in Jerusalem and Paul was arrested!
3) The solution to rash judgments. We must certainly be very careful so as not to be guilty of making rash judgments about others before we have gathered all the necessary information! Then, we must also be careful so that we do not spread any of the rash judgments we have made (i.e. through gossip)!
So, we must always be determined to judge with righteous judgment and not judge only on the basis of how things appear (John 7:24). This involves hearing a matter out completely (getting all of the perspectives involved) before reaching a conclusion (Proverbs 18:13). For instance, Proverbs 15:28 says, “The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, But the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.” Carefully examine all the facts. Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath (James 1:19-20). Have no preconceived ideas or judgments. Instead, be open-minded and honestly evaluate the matter carefully and prayerfully before reaching a conclusion.
Rash judgments are destructive – for yourself and for the ones impacted by them. Determine that you will always err on the side of caution in judgment rather than rushing to conclusions. Remember, you do not know the hearts of others and you can only evaluate the fruit that people produce in their lives.