KNOWLEDGE AND JUDGMENT
The Bible forbids judging others (Matt. 7:1). Under no circumstances should the saints of God criticize others. Today too many Christians act as judges of their brothers! I often hear this saying, "Christians are the best critics." This is a common sickness among believers. We should ask the Lord to set a watch before our mouths and keep the door of our lips.
Judging others is related to what we know. We are more apt to judge when we do not know the full picture. We are also apt to criticize when we are too clear in our reasonings.
It is thoughtless for one to judge presumptuously according to hearsay without first knowing the real situation! Others have their secrets; how could we know them all? How unfair it is for us to criticize others presumptuously without first knowing everything! We should not dare to judge others, because we do not have full factual knowledge concerning them. Although at times we think we have all the facts, it is possible that there may still be misunderstandings. We should remember how bad we feel and how our heart suffers when we are mistakenly judged by others! The others may think that all the facts are true as well! In like manner, when we criticize others, we may think that we know all the facts, without realizing that there are still hidden factors, like the case of our judging others. We feel bad when we are judged. Why then should we make others feel bad?
What a pity that many times biblical knowledge only helps people to criticize others! The more knowledge a person has in his head, the more critical he becomes. What benefit will this knowledge be to him? Knowledge that comes from books or that is collected from mental exercise usually forms our basis for judging others! The clearer a person is concerning biblical truths, the more he knows how to criticize others in a mean way.
At any rate, God has not ordained such a one to be the judge. Those who criticize others will in turn be criticized before Christ’s judgment seat. God does not take pleasure in those who only know how to speak about others’ shortcomings, but who never check concerning themselves. We should never seek the will of God for others. God knows how to lead everyone. God can lead you; He can also lead others. Do not think that, just because you consider that something is not the will of God, it is therefore not the will of God, and that you can therefore proceed to judge your brothers. God is responsible for their actions and deeds. We need not be concerned for them.
Many times God has forgiven a person, yet we still judge such a one. It seems as if man is more righteous than God! May we not fall to such a degree! If God could forbear our brother’s mistake, why can we not bear the same? We should not expose the sin that God has covered. To continue in judgment is of no benefit to others, and it is harmful to ourselves. Those who do so forget how God has been merciful to them.
Children of God, at difficult times such as now, what is lacking is not your harsh judgments, but your tender love. Do not increase others’ tears and suffering through your knowledge. May we bind up the wounds of all our neighbors with the wine of joy and the oil of the Holy Spirit (Luke 10:34). May we comfort others and not criticize them.
In my observation, I see a shortcoming among the saints today, which is their talkativeness and their not aspiring to be quiet (1 Thes. 4:11). Many are not at all lively, whereas others are too lively! Those who have received more grace from God will surely bow their heads low. But those who have not been deeply rooted in Jesus Christ are bound to be frivolous in their behavior. Proverbs says, "A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself" (18:2). How true this is! Often those without the Lord’s perfecting work like to make a show of their merits. But if we have been in the Lord and have been nurtured much by Him, we will agree with Jeremiah, "Let him sit alone and be silent,/Because He has laid it upon him" (Lam. 3:28).
A living of quietness is often one that gives off fragrance. If we speak less, our words will become more powerful. Much speaking is a sign of spiritual leakage. The Lord Jesus said of the Holy Spirit, "He will glorify Me, for He will receive of Mine and will declare it to you....He will not speak from Himself" (John 16:14, 13). A person who is full of the Holy Spirit will have such a life. If something is not from the Lord, such a one will not speak to others about it. Every word he utters is not according to himself. We should not speak what we want to speak, but speak only after we have heard the Lord’s word. If we obey the Holy Spirit in this point, our daily conversation will be cut by more than half! This is the only way to glorify our Lord. If the Spirit glorifies the Lord by what He says, how should those who claim to be full of the Holy Spirit behave?
How our natural being loves to express what we know! If those brothers and sisters ahead of us in the Lord have teachings that we only half understand, we are so apt to say, "I know this already. Indeed, this is what I have been doing all the time." When the Lord’s servant preaches, how we love to show that we are different from others who know nothing about what is being preached. Little do we realize that we know less than others do. Our eagerness to express ourselves only proves our shallowness in knowledge. A life of quietness is a life that possesses real knowledge!
When facing a welcoming crowd, how difficult it is to be quiet! This does not mean merely to keep our mouth closed, but to be inwardly unmoved. The temptation then is to add some words, directly or indirectly, to broadcast our own merits. At such times it would be wonderful if we could remain unmoved by outward influences and would maintain a cool attitude!
When we are despised by others, it is hard for us to maintain our composure without murmuring behind the backs of others. It is even harder to be quiet before the Lord in addition to remaining silent before men. A person can do this only if his inner man is not stirred up.
A quiet life is one in which a person is quiet in his spirit and is not influenced by the outward world. It is not merely to speak little. There are those in the world who are born with few words. But there are none that are born "quiet." Those who speak few words have turmoil in their heart just as everyone else does; they may even have more turmoil than others do. Certainly those who are quiet are few in words. For a person to grit his teeth to refrain from speaking is not quietness, for the heart is still in turmoil.
Unless the cross works deeply in man’s heart, no one can be quiet. Only when the Holy Spirit works in us the meaning of the cross, to the extent that the Spirit takes over our whole being, can there be the possibility of being quiet. Our Lord is indeed a good pattern for us. When the multitude forced Him to be king, He retreated to the wilderness (John 6:15). When He stood before Pontius Pilate, He would not utter a word (Matt. 27:12-14). His outward silence showed that He was not disturbed inwardly.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 07: The Christian (5), Chapter 23, by Watchman Nee)