Use the word “judge” today, and in many circles it will immediately conjure up negative thoughts. Why this? While the Bible contains serious warnings against hypocritical judgment, judgments of motives, judging according to our own standards, and judgment motivated by evil, the Bible teaches us to make judgments in many situations.
Jesus taught that righteous judgments are needed (Jn 7:24). In I Corinthians, Paul made a judgment concerning the fornicator in the church in Corinth, and he ordered the church in Corinth to judge those in the church (I Cor 5:3, 12). The instruction to the church in Thessalonica to withdraw from the disorderly requires judgment of one’s behavior against the revealed word of God (2 Thes 3:6, 14). The apostle John’s instruction in 2 John 9-11, to not receive one who brings another doctrine, requires judging one’s teaching against the doctrine of Christ. In all these cases, the judgment taking place is a discerning that is based upon a comparison to the revealed word of God.
From what I can find in the Bible, Lot is the first man to be accused of being a judge. In Genesis 19:1, when the two angels came to the city of Sodom, Lot was sitting in the gate. Whether that indicates that he held some position of authority in the city, was perhaps on a council of judges, was in the habit of practicing hospitality, or some other reason, we are not told. You’ll recall that he showed no small hospitality to those angels, insisting they spend the night in his house instead of the open square as they suggested. Before retiring for the night, immoral men – homosexuals – surrounded his house, demanding that Lot bring out “the men” so that they could commit sexual immorality with them. Lot forcefully replied to them with a firm “no”: “Do not do so wickedly.”
Righteous Lot had been tormented day to day by the filthy conduct of the wicked (2 Peter 2:6-8). Here, in Genesis 19, he spoke out against those attempting such wickedness, and he was called a judge for it: “This one came in to sojourn, and he keeps acting as a judge; now we will deal worse with you than with them” (Gen 19:9).
Please note some things in what they said. First, their accusation against Lot was not said as a compliment. It was meant as condemnation of his pronouncement of their evil. Interestingly, they are playing quite the hypocrite when they accuse him of being a judge, yet they have just acted as a judge in judging him to be a judge! Second, they are accusing him of a pattern of judging – “he keeps acting as a judge.” This was no one-time event for Lot. We do not know what Lot may have said to these men or others in the city on other occasions, but we do know this about Lot: Peter describes him as a righteous man. No doubt his righteous behavior was itself a judgment upon the wickedness of the men of Sodom. As you know, those who practice evil feel judged by those practicing righteousness, even without a word being spoken. Third, Lot’s judgment of their wicked behavior is intolerable to them: “now we will deal worse with you than with them.” To these men, Lot was their enemy because of his righteous words of rebuke and his righteous conduct.
Lot is a commendable example to us in this matter of judging. There is nothing to be ashamed of when we
- Live righteously and godly, and that behavior that is pleasing to God judges others’ unrighteous behavior, and
- Judge between good and evil, and speak out against the evil, and
- When we test doctrines, holding fast those that are true and rejecting those that are false, not receiving into fellowship the one who teaches otherwise.
While being identified for judging is often not meant as a compliment, if we are doing the things above in love, we have nothing of which to be ashamed. God commands us to make righteous judgments based upon His written word contained in the Bible.
– Larry Jones