"Do not judge according to appearance, use righteous judgment."
When Jesus uttered these words in John seven, what was he specifically talking about? Is this a corrective to, "judge not, lest ye be judged," or is he talking about something else.
The Jews had many opinions about Jesus, but the one that prevailed among the leaders was that Jesus was a lawbreaker and a troublemaker. "Technically," Jesus did break the law, at least the way the Jewish leaders were using it. In lawyer fashion, they were arguing a case against Jesus. In defense, Jesus pointed out that they did such things as circumcise a baby even on the Sabbath. If they did this thing that had to do with just a small part of the body, then what is wrong with making an entire body well? They were to use righteous judgment and not judge according to appearance.
You see, they had already made up their minds to reject Jesus, and therefore would do so in any way they could. In chapter seven they rejected Jesus also on the basis that no prophet comes from Galilee, and that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem, not Nazareth. Had they bothered to do some simple investigating, they would have found that Jesus was indeed born in Bethlehem, and that a prophet did come from Galilee, Jonah. But they were not interested in this, only in rejecting Jesus and therefore did not tend to the evidence.
Isn't that like so many people today? Many reject God, reject Christianity, and reject Jesus, even though they have never investigated Jesus' claims or the evidence. Most are woefully ignorant of what Jesus actually said about himself and of the testimony of both himself and his disciples. They judge according to appearance and do not use righteous judgment. Like the Jews, they are not interested in what Jesus actually said or in the various types of confirmations of his identity and message.
Let us never be guilty of the same thing. Let us never judge according to appearance. Even if it is concerning our faith rather than rejection, let's use righteous judgment. Let it not be, "I go to church because that is what my parents did," or "I am a Christian because that is what my family has always been," but rather, "I am a Christian because Jesus the Messiah is the fulfillment of God's plan as foretold by the prophets, because Jesus demonstrated his power over sin and death and defeated both when he died on the cross and rose from the grave, and rules in his kingdom at the right hand of the father, and now gives the Spirit to empower us to carry on his mission and he will one day return and fulfill what remains by smashing Satan, casting away death once and for all, and will reign in his eternal kingdom forever.