WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
APRIL 22, 2022
TOPIC: LISTEN BEFORE YOU JUDGE A MATTER
BY T. O. BANSO
“Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, ‘Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?’” (John 7:50-51 New King James Version).
In John 7:45-46, the Temple guards who had been sent to arrest Jesus returned to the chief priests and Pharisees, unable to arrest Him. They said no man ever spoke like the man (Jesus). The Pharisees answered them, “Are you also deceived? Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him? But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed” (John 7:47-49 New King James Version). These Pharisees were intolerant of the truth. And they were already biased against someone who had not been arraigned before them or heard His defence, and nobody has testified against Him.
Nicodemus, one of the Pharisees who had earlier had an encounter with Jesus in the night and must have become a His secret disciple by then, asked his colleagues, “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?” (John 7:51 New King James Version).
The chief priests and Pharisees answered and said to him, “Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee” (John 7:52 New King James Version). Although they reacted wrongly, Nicodemus had made a point. The chief priests and Pharisees could not pass judgment on Jesus without first listening to Him. It is against the principle of natural justice and fair hearing.
Nicodemus said they must follow the law. Justice must be done. He said they must listen to Jesus before they judged Him. When Jesus was eventually arrested and tried by the Council, they didn’t give Him a fair hearing as they were not only biased but also procured false witnesses to testify against Him.
Learn from what Nicodemus said. Listen before you judge a matter. This is why judges in the courts give equal opportunities to parties to present their cases and defend themselves. By this, they are trying to ensure a fair trial and fair hearing so that any impartial observer would see that justice has been done. Everyone is presumed innocent until he or she is proven guilty.
Whether at home, school, work, church, or anywhere, make sure you listen before you judge. Don’t jump to conclusions. That will be an injustice. If you listen well and consider the facts, you may be surprised that you would have been wrong if you had not listened.
Proverbs 18:13 says he who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him. Don’t be a fool. The Living Bible renders the verse thus: “What a shame – yes, how stupid! – to decide before knowing the facts.” The apostle James says every man should be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath (James 1:19). Many people do the opposite and regret it later. But the damage would have already been done.
Listen before you judge a matter. After listening to the accusation of the chief priests and Pharisees against Jesus, Pilate found Him innocent (Luke 23:4, 14; John 18:38; 19:4, 6). Although he was not courageous enough to set Him free, he would have agreed that He was guilty as charged if he had not listened to the two parties. But He knew that the Jewish leaders had arrested Jesus out of envy (Matthew 27:18; Mark 15:10). If you listen before you judge a matter, you’ll be able to make your findings.
Don’t be influenced by hearsay. Listen before you judge a matter. Prophesying the birth of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the prophet Isaiah says about Jesus before His birth, “He will delight in obeying the LORD. He will not judge by appearance nor make a decision based on hearsay” (Isaiah 11:3 New Living Translation). Take note of the phrase “make a decision based on hearsay.” You should learn not to judge based on hearsay. Hear directly from the affected persons. Don’t shave their heads in their absence! There can’t be justice without a fair hearing.
1 Samuel 24:9 says, “And David said to Saul: ‘Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Indeed David seeks your harm’?” (New King James Version). These were the words of David the first time he had the opportunity of killing Saul but didn’t. Saul judged the matter without hearing from David. He based his judgment on hearsay. But David had no intention of killing him. Otherwise, he would have killed him on his occasion. Neither did he kill him when he had another opportunity.
Unfortunately, David also made that mistake by judging Mephibosheth, who was lame, without giving him a fair hearing. He listened to only what Ziba, Mephibosheth’s servant, told him and gave all that belonged to Mephibosheth to him (2 Samuel 16:1-4). But if what Mephibosheth told David later was true, Ziba had lied to David. In the circumstance, David said Mephibosheth and Ziba should divide the land (2 Samuel 19:24-30). Some Bible scholars see this decision by David as a reversal of his rash decision to the original arrangement. Others consider it a new arrangement where both Mephibosheth and Ziba would benefit, as David, probably, did not know who between the two was saying the truth.
In the Old Testament, the administration of the justice system that God gave the Israelites ensured fair trial and fair hearing. It ensured that judgment could not be passed without listening to those affected and the witnesses. Deuteronomy 1:17a says there must be no partiality in judgment; both the small and the great must be heard.
Concerning witnesses, two or three witnesses were required to establish a matter. Deuteronomy 19:15 says, “One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established” (New King James Version).
More importantly, nobody could be put to death based on the testimony of one person. Deuteronomy 17:6 says, “Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness” (New King James Version). This is also stated in Numbers 35:30: “Whoever kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death on the testimony of witnesses; but one witness is not sufficient testimony against a person for the death penalty” (New King James Version).
The delivery of judgment could not be possible without listening to those brought for trial and witnesses. It was against the law. “Hear the cases between your brethren, and judge righteously between a man and his brother or the stranger who is with him” (Deuteronomy 1:16 New King James Version). The New Testament also refers to the requirement for two or three witnesses to establish a matter (Matthew 18:16; 1 Timothy 5:19; Hebrews 10:28; John 8:17).
Paul made a point in Acts 23 about the illegality of slapping him when he was defending himself before the Sanhedrin. Acts 23:1-3 says, “Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, ‘Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.’ And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, ‘God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?’” (New King James Version).
Although Paul apologized when He was scolded for talking to the High priest the way he did, he had made a point. It was against the law for the high priest to have ordered that he should be slapped. That violated his right to a fair hearing.
A similar thing happened to Jesus after He was arrested and brought to Annas (the former high priest). He was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Jesus was slapped after He answered a question by Annas. “And when He had said these things, one of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, ‘Do You answer the high priest like that?’ Jesus answered him, ‘If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you strike Me?’” (John 18:22-23 NewKingJamesVersion). This was a mockery of justice.
Listen before you judge a matter. Respect people’s right to a fair hearing. Don’t listen to hearsay. Allow the parties to present their case. Give them equal opportunities. Listen to witnesses. Don’t listen to parties as a mere formality such that the decisions reached are not supported by what you have heard. Consider the facts.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner, and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner, and I cannot save myself. I believe Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and was raised on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: In my relationships, I shall not judge any matter without listening to those involved. I shall not jump to conclusions. Holy Spirit, help me to respect people’s right to a fair hearing and judge uprightly. Father, let our courts be the temple of justice, not a market where justice is for sale.
(For over 800 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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