How do we wisely judge things in our lives? That is what today's proverb answers for us. This may seem strange to some who view all judging as wrong. Their favorite verse in the Scriptures is, "Judge not, lest you be judged." While they hold fast to this verse with all that is in them - they miss others like, "Judge all things, hold fast to that which is good." There is a balanced view of judging in the Scriptures - as well as different concepts as we judge things. But the one thing that holds consistent in all passages about judging is the statement that is made in the book of Proverbs here in chapter 20.
To understand this proverb, we will have to take a moment and understand how the marketplace worked in the average city and town in Israel. They did not have packaged items like we do today. They put their wares out in a booth or a place in the market - and sold their items directly to the people. This involved a set of scales. The average scale would consist of two baskets set on a balance bar. The way the system worked was that the seller would place weights in one basket, while putting produce in the other. The weights would be marked according to their measurements (we would use pounds or grams) and then they would charge a price per pound of food that the person put into the other basket. The problem spoken of here is when the seller would have weights that were not accurate on purpose. He would use one set of weights with some customers - but would pull out a different set to cheat other customers when he could. These would be lighter in weight - while he would continue to charge the same amount as if they were accurate. Thus the buyer would get less food for more money. If an official came by the booth, he would quickly stash the innacurate, cheating weights, and would pull out the accurate ones for a few customers. When the heat was off from the officials, he would return to cheating those who came to his booth.
There is a cheating in business where we use differing weights and measures. God says that such actions are an abomination to Him. He hates this kind (and actually any kind) of lying. But there are more places where we are guilty of using different weights and measures. One is in the kind of judging that God despises. We judge ourselves by one standard, and yet judge our neighbor's actions by a higher one. Jesus referred to this in the gospels when he spoke of the person who would look for a speck in his brother's eye, while ignoring the huge wooden beam in his own. This is when we tolerate sin in our own lives just fine - but the fine we use with others is a fine toothed comb. This is using different weights and measures. God considers such things an abomination to Him - and He hates when we do this! David fell into this trap with the prophet Nathan while in the midst of his sin with Bathsheba. When hearing of the man who took his neighbor's little lamb for a feast - instead of using sheep and lambs from his own flock - David responded in incensed anger - saying that the man should die who has done this. Little did he know that Nathan's next words would be, "You are the man!" David's different weights and measures involved his own sin with Bathsheba, which he had ignored - and yet with an imaginary man who had done less with a lamb, David demanded justice and judgment.
God is a just and righteous God. He judges ALL things with perfect judgment. He does not have multiple standards which He uses in multiple situations. He always judges justly. To use separate ways of judging is an abomination to Him. And if we are quick to want to point out some supposed injustice in God - say - that Jesus did not have the adulterous woman stoned for her sin - we need to stop and put our hand over our mouth. All sin was justly judged and paid in full by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. When it came to the one situation we would think would illicit God lessening a punishment and a demand, it would have been when His perfect, spotless Son became sin. But God did not lessen the punishment - and did not pervert justice. He poured out the fullness of His wrath and punishment upon His Son. He was judged to the uttermost when He became sin - crying out on the cross, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me!" Yet He knew why that had to happen. That cry was not misunderstanding . . . it was pure pain and agony. Jesus was being judged for sin. So, before we decide God is unjust, we should take a trip to the cross. It was there where God could forever be not only just, but for all time the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus Christ.
Wisdom rejects multiple standards when it comes to sin. We judge with a righteous judgment - for that is how God judged and judges even today. But even as we reject the varying weights and measures of situational ethics - and multiple ways of looking at truth - we need to also embrace perfect justice and righteousness. That took place on the cross so that God could be both just and merciful. Just to His Son, and because of His blood shed at the cross, merciful to us.