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We must learn to judge like Jesus
Pastor Ben Sadler
by Pastor Ben Sadler
February 13, 2023

You’ve probably heard that Jesus once said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1). But what does that mean? Keep reading, and you will find that Jesus clarified his statement. He was not against judging others but, more specifically, judgmentalism. He said, “First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5). In other words, don’t hypocritically judge others.

On other occasions, Jesus clearly stated we must make wise judgments about people. He said we must be as “shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). If we don’t make accurate assessments of others, we might

  • harm those who need help,
  • help those who want to hurt,
  • or be hurt by those who wish to destroy.

Therefore, we must learn to judge like Jesus. According to Jesus, who are the different types of people?

1. Sheep of the Good Shepherd

According to Jesus, some people hear his voice and follow him. These are the sheep that are faithful followers of Christ. Jesus rebukes them, and they respond. They repent, receive forgiveness, and change. These sheep will continue to grow and flourish because the Good Shepherd guides them.

You know you are dealing with true sheep because they are open to instruction and help. They know their weaknesses and limitations, so they listen to you and do the good things you teach them. Invest your time in such people. You will be able to mentor and guide them to be flourishing members of society.

2. Lost sheep

In Matthew 18, Jesus describes some people as lost sheep. In this context, those “little ones” have stumbled. According to Jesus, someone caused them to stumble, and that perpetrator will have to face such harsh punishment from God that “it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:6). Jesus wants us to track down this wandering sheep so that this person could again be a member of God’s church.

Unfortunately, we often misjudge lost sheep. We see them falling into a particular vice: sexual promiscuity, drug use, chaotic behavior, and we judge them as a lost cause. Very often, their behavior is just a symptom of the more profound pain of their past.

With such people, we must not be fooled by their outward behavior. We must patiently listen to get to the root of their wound so that we might lead them to heal with Jesus’ help.

3. Hired hands

Jesus says that some leaders are just hired hands. They don’t care for the sheep. They are in it just for the paycheck. Jesus says when wolves attack, hired hands abandon the sheep because they care nothing for them (John 10:12,13).

You know you are dealing with a mere hired hand when this person only cares about themselves. They talk about themselves, and they make plans only for their benefit. Be careful about going to such people with your deepest wounds. At best, they might ignore you and, even worse, reopen your wound.

4. Wolves in sheep’s clothing

As much as we don’t want to believe it, there are truly evil people. Jesus says these people are thieves and wolves who come to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). These people have so hardened their hearts to God’s truth that they look to control others without any resistance from their consciences. Even worse, Jesus says they often “come to you in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15). That means they can give the appearance of being good, upstanding citizens, especially by what they say and a few isolated acts of charity.

But Jesus says, “By their fruit you will recognize them” (Matthew 7:16). In other words, if you watch what comes out of their lives, the fruit, and their actions, you will begin to decipher if they are trustworthy. You know you are dealing with a wolf if he or she focuses on control. That person will try to control the narrative of every interaction, sometimes playing the victim and sometimes the villain, whatever is necessary to keep the power.

With such people, don’t even eat a meal. Get away from them. Don’t try to reason with them. And if necessary, use all the resources available to protect yourself from their deceitful scheming.

5. Good shepherds

There is one Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ (John 10:11). He protects the sheep and keeps them from harm and lays down his life for them. He gives them life to the full, doing whatever is necessary to grant such abundance.

Although there is only one Good Shepherd, there are those who follow his lead. These people are willing to make sacrifices for the good of those in their care. These are the parents, teachers, caregivers, pastors, and many others who are trustworthy, followers of Jesus.

You know you are dealing with a good shepherd if their life produces good fruit. They show sacrificial love “to the least of these.” They listen when there is an outcry of abuse. They attend to the needs of others before themselves. They are reliable.

These are the people you can go to for restoration. Confess your sins and pain to them because they will point you back to Jesus, the Good Shepherd. They will walk with you on your journey to healing so that your wounds will finally become scars that can serve others.

Judge like Jesus
Even a cursory read of Jesus’ life reveals that he often assessed those with whom he interacted. He knew some people were trying to trick him, so he didn’t give them the time of day. He knew some were hurting and longing for forgiveness, even though they seemed to be a lost cause. He knew some could be trusted and mentored into greatness, even though society overlooked them.

We must follow his lead. Yes, God can change the worst villain into his servant, so we will continue to pray even for our archenemies. But remember, even Jesus couldn’t change Judas after he had given his heart to Satan. So be wise with whom you interact.

Seek out lost sheep.

Invest in Jesus’ lambs.

Avoid hired hands.

And fight against the wolves.

In all things, follow the Good Shepherd, who gave up his life so you would have life to the full.