Huh; how were they supposed to judge the Twelve Tribes without judging? In both of these passages, the same Greek verb, krinõ is used, so how can we reconcile this seeming inconsistency? Well, there are several ways to clear things up a bit, the most obvious, of course, being that we tend to read these words as if they addressed directly to us!
Although in both cases, Jesus was speaking directly to His contemporaries, most, if not all Christians today ( even non-Christians ), interpret Jesus, in the latter passage, as speaking directly to People ( particularly ) of all Ages! In the first passage, Jesus is pretty obviously speaking directly to His first-century disciples! ( for most Christians, the fact that they would judge the Twelve Tribes should be more than enough to tell you that ), but in the second statement ( actually first, chronologically ), it is universally accepted, in most cases, that we are, in no way, shape or form, to judge others!
Another way to clarify the seeming inconsistency here ( related to the first ), is to realize that Jesus was speaking to two different groups! The first statement was clearly directed toward His ( Jewish ) first-century disciples, but the second was made during Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, and was more of a blanket statement, directed toward His entire congregation. Reading this statement in context with the following words, 'For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you', tells us that Jesus was only warning His congregation ( audience ) that if/when they judged another, and doing the same things, they would receive a similar or greater judgment in return!
In relation to this, as well, is the fact that historically, Jesus' statement to His disciples was directly linked to the Hebrew Scriptures, which they knew well & understood even better ( this is questionable )! Judging the Twelve Tribes was something that they had been doing in the days before the earthly kings. Jesus told His disciples that the reign of these earthly kings was over, and that they would instead, reign with our Heavenly King from His Heavenly Throne!
In all this, and lost on most Christians today as well, we must realize that the People of God is but One People! The Continuity of the Story is one of the most glorious aspects of Scripture! Because the Story of the Church is simply a Continuation, or Fulfillment of the Story of Israel, we can take great comfort in knowing the true impact of the statement, 'Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8 NKJV) By syncing our History with that of the Ancient People of God, we understand that He holds the same Love for us as He held for them, an Undying & Eternal Love!
As Judges of the Earth, we are to judge for ourselves what is right and what is wrong! This is not to say, of course, that we can define, as we please, what is right and what is wrong; God forbid! We have His Word and a Cleansed Conscience to tell us what is right and what is wrong; we are to judge by these Guidelines! His Law, written on our hearts, guides us into all Truth, and comforts us in our tribulation!
When Jesus warned the Pharisacal Jews that they should not judge others, He was not giving a blanket commandment that people of all ages should not judge, but simply that we should not be hypocritical about our judgments! The problems they faced in Jesus' day are alive and well in ours!
Hypocrisy in judgment is as real & glaring a problem as His first-centįry disciples faced!
To judge without hypocrisy, we must first, as Jesus said, 'remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye'. This is something, whether we want to or not, that we must do, for we are The Judges of the Earth! Let us therefore determine to judge with A Righteous Judgment, not in a hypocritical way, but as those who have been Cleansed & Redeemed, in the Knowledge & Realization that we are the Fulfillment of the Promise, The People of the Presence!
Charles Haddon Shank