Home Pastor's Corner . Who r u 2 Judge

. Who r u 2 Judge

As we approach the series entitled “who are you to judge?” I thought it would be appropriate to introduce the theme with a few thoughts. Most of us are guilty of judging others, and inevitably slandering others. Consider the following thoughts and prepare your hearts for a rich series on this topic that will hopefully assist in breaking down the cause of many interpersonal relationships going pear shaped.

Since the fall in Genesis, our sinful nature manifests itself as an urge to know better than God, and in fact, an urge to replace God with ourselves. This is the root cause of all self-righteousness that Jesus unveiled and deconstructed so effectively in His ministry. In Romans 14:1-12, self-righteousness takes on the form of judging others. The warning is clear: “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant?” (14:4); “You then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.” (14:10). This passage points out how quickly we want to take God’s place as judge when differences of opinion occur between us. We are all too eager to justify and rationalise our own perspectives with an argument that puts God on our side, and then judge others who think different from us that they have not seen the light the way we do. The bottom line is that we are not God, and that “each of us will give an account of himself to God” (14:12) who is the One who will ultimately make the judgment. Do you carry any judgment of others in your heart? Can you embrace difference rather than slander about it?

If there is one issue in life that saps our energies and hinders our service to the Lord it is legalism and judgment of others.

Could it be, maybe, that we’re all too quick to put people into boxes based on the limited knowledge we have of their motives, actions, values, and situations? We’re so prone to judge people on so little evidence: on the basis of one bad day or a few careless words, a poor choice made in a weak moment, a disagreement or a personality idiosyncrasy. We shove them in our mental boxes and bolt down the lids: liar, thief, cheater, sexually immoral, heretic, selfish, failure and sinner.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged,” Jesus once cautioned. The reason he gives, emphasises what a double-standard it is when we pigeonhole people a little too efficiently and expeditiously: “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” None of us want to be placed in a box based on a few of our worst actions. We all prefer to be evaluated, if at all, on our entire body of work. Jesus just reminds us to extend that same courtesy to those with whom we share life. What Jesus reminds us of, is that we don’t see people as just the sum total of their bad decisions and less-than-greatest moments. Even as we hold people accountable for their actions, we can recognise that they’re more than the sum of their actions. And even when we come into contact – as we will – with people who have elevated wrongdoing to an art form, He reminds us that it’s too much like the world and too little like Him to slap a label on that person and dismiss him or her as irredeemably and irretrievably broken.

James reminds us in no uncertain terms that there’s only one who’s qualified to be accuser, judge and jury, only one who can be trusted to truthfully evaluate hearts and minds. He will save and destroy. “Who are you to judge your neighbour?” he asks. That’s a reasonable question, isn’t it? Who, exactly, am I to sit in judgment on anyone?

As I write this article, I realise that I’m a person who’s made my share of bad decisions. I have done things that I’ve regretted and confessed of, and probably a few things I should have regretted and didn’t. I’m aware enough of my own failures that I feel pretty sure that, given less-ideal circumstances than the ones I enjoy, I might very well have made even worse choices. Given all that, I need to be very cautious about treating anyone else in way that keeps them perpetually on the hook for every sin they’ve ever committed. I don’t want to spend my life in someone’s convenient box for my sins, and I’m certainly grateful God hasn’t treated me that way. I’m grateful that he sees value in me in spite of the sinful things I’ve done and the good things I haven’t. How else can I show that gratitude but by giving others the grace I’ve received. I know that I have not only borne the brunt of inappropriate and sinful judging, but that I have dished it out on many occasions through my life. But whether you give or receive, the glory of God is tarnished and the work of the Kingdom is frustrated.

In spite of whom and what I am, God has shown me grace, because that’s what it is not to pass judgment: grace. To say to someone, in words and actions, “In spite of what you’ve done I see and celebrate the image of God in you” – that’s a great gift to give. That’s not to say we celebrate or wink at sin or embrace the sinner with a shoulder hug that says, ‘it is okay what you are doing, because you are my brother. You are in my party, and in our party we do not judge each other, no we reserve it for the others’. It’s not to say we don’t mourn the way the image of God in a person can be so warped and obscured. In the end, we choose not to pass judgment because in doing so we human beings almost always overlook the potential for good that exists in all of God’s children, and we forget the potential we all have to sin, even in ways far worse. And that’s an affront to our Creator.

Maybe there’s someone you need to let off the hook. You need to open the box you’ve placed them in and let them out. Maybe just in your heart, to start with – but rest assured that choice will affect the way you treat that person, talk about them, and think about them. You’ll start to see how much they matter to God, and you’ll start to imagine what God can do with them and in them.

The call on us during this series is going to be very simple – do not pass judgement before the time, and do not go beyond what is written.

Trust Him to judge. He will judge rightly, and at the right time.

And you won’t want to change a thing. Rather, learning to identify and avoid these problems will help us promote peace and joy in the body of Christ, and is that not what we want?

CHRISTIAN, THERE IS A HIGHER THRONE, AND WE ARE NOT ON IT.

It will not be Buddah, or Allah, or your boss at work, or any one of us, but our Lord himself who is on the throne and before Him we bow as the eternal judge.