Jesus is very clear. In the sermon on the mount in Matthew 7:
“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
The internet is full of judgments based on the flesh or merit. I love watching YouTube commentaries on movies. The commentators I follow have my taste and style, so, I most likely agree with him. And these judgments on art are fine as a pastime; they also help hone my craft as an artist myself. But at the end of the day it’s all based upon appearances, works. At the end of the day, God cares more about what a person does alone with their family than any book, movie, or work of art they create.
What earthly judgments do you attribute to as a pastime? Ever made a comment and had it immediately shot down by another?
Jesus warns about judgments of the flesh. If you judge others in this way, you will also be judged.
And what if you are judging rightly, according to God’s word and not your own? Jesus covers this in the very next verse:
6 “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.
How can a fallen person judge another fallen person by their own fallen nature? Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 15:11 “…it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”
His disciples responded by letting him know how unhappy the Pharisees were when he said this. He responded:
14 “Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” 15 But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”
We aren’t called by God to judge others by our own strength. We must judge them by God’s (and even then to be careful lest we throw pearls before swine). And we do not judge what enters the body, what we consume of food, culture, or art. We must judge what comes out of it. The Jews of that time were very judgmental about what they ate. Jesus is saying what comes out of the heart is more important.
What cultural biases of the flesh do we have today? Do we cast judgments of the flesh upon others instead of caring about the heart?
In the book of John, Jesus was once teaching in a temple. The people marveled because he had not studied and yet said many profound things. “How does he do this?” They asked.
16 So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. 17 If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. 18 The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.
Even Jesus, the Son of God, did not judge based upon His authority, but rather upon the Heavenly Father who sent Him. The same is true for us. Our final judgment against anyone of this world is found in the bible, that is, God’s word.
The people then sought to kill Jesus after he had said this. They brought up His “sin” of healing on the sabbath. He responded in the same chapter:
24 “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
Love at First Sight
If God’s word is the correct way to judge, how do we apply that in a dating relationship?
Well, listen to what they say. And then see what they do.
Love at first sight is a lie that leads to misjudging a person. It asks you to take that initial emotions you feel and make it the dominant part of how you see him.
But, love is blind right? This is a very healthy way to look at a healthy relationship that is working. It means give grace to our fallen selves. But what about abuse? The more blind to what they say vs what they do, the more this abusive blind person will lead you into a ditch.
Take a Chance but Don’t Have Labels
To the world, true love is a slot machine. Cast yourself in and hope you get lucky. Give of yourself too soon and just hope the fates will guide you true.
The world also counters this thought by being “flexible.”
If you ask a worldly couple to define their relationship status, they will usually respond with, “We don’t put labels on things.”
Translation… we’ve tried many different times with other people. We’ve committed to this person and that… we’ve been so bruised and battered that we have taken away labels.
An even shorter translation is, “We don’t want to commit to anything.” And can you blame them?
Victims of abuse are often very unsure if they can trust another person ever again.
How do you judge a person rightly then? The bible scoffs at love at first sight and slot machine dating. Even when true love is happening the Shulamite (Song of Solomon 8:4) warns against stirring or awakening love until it pleases.
Just Breath and Take Your Time
Right judgments take time. You aren’t required to give all of yourself to a person that seems right. It isn’t a single on or off switch. It is a slow layering of thoughts and ideas, talking and dating until things get deeper.
It means debating in a healthy way about how one should live their life out. It also means compromising, but finding the line on what to compromise and what to say no to.
Ultimately the ideal husband and wife is found in Ephesians 5:22-33. In summary: a wife is to be submissive to a husband who is a servant leader. He should never abuse her verbally (verse 26), physically (verse 27), but should instead cherish her as much as his own body (verse 28). This is the type of a man a woman should look for, the type of man worthy of submission.
Finding such a man takes time. This is what dating and courtship are designed for. A woman is not asked to submit fully to a man she is dating. She submits a day to him for a date. She submits bits and pieces of her day for various conversations and texts. But he does not have her full submission, nor should he ever demand it.
Dating over a long period of time should show what type of man he is.
Abusers can still hide it from a woman though. They can wait and pretend for a long time. This is why you pray and ask for wisdom (James 1). Ask for God to help you decide, which brings us all the way back to His word.
Judge What’s in his Heart
So, sure, take your time and judge a man by their appearances, you must be attracted to them after all. But don’t judge too harshly.
Feel free to judge their style and how they speak. Judge what they do and how they think. But be warned, the more picky a person is the more picked on by others they will be. “Judge not lest you be judged.”
So, take your time and judge wisely. This can only be done by talking and dating. Be careful not to hold the surface things as more important than what comes out of their heart.
What do they say?
What do they do?
This is the most telling thing of all.
And for goodness sake, be careful of the swine! The swindlers who would steal the very core of your being, the pearls of goodness and virtue the Holy Spirit has been building up, the fruit of His Spirit inside you.
Dating means portions… not all.