Do you like that title? It’s a little old school certainly but maybe we need a little old school these days.
Thrust to the forefront of my mind today was the issue of judgement (and this was not triggered by what you might think it was, I guarantee you…y’all know who y’all are gentle readers).
I think I am beginning to understand why Christ was so exceptionally clear in his prohibition of judgement, that being the providence of God and God alone.
We are little gods in our own right to be sure. Small child-like images of a loving creator and so we have these understandable urges to be like our Holy Parent. We act like four year old’s putting on mama’s dress and shoes or papa’s work boots and hard hat…we stomp around the house to the great delight of our parent as we practice what we will one day get to do for real.
However – there is a reason we are not allowed to wander out of the house, hard hat and work boots in tow, to take control of the closest backhoe…because we will damage ourselves and everyone around us…maybe even become bringers of death. We are not ready to do the things our loving God does. We will never be ready to do most of the things our loving God does. Judgement is one of those things that has been forbidden of us this side of eternity.
Judge – According to the Oxford Dictionary it means “a person able or qualified to give an opinion on something: she was a good judge of character”
The key here is the word “qualified”. We are not qualified to judge one-another…we are not qualified to judge ourselves even.
What does judging look like? It can take on so many forms I do not think I can list them all here (if you have ideas add them as comments):
– It looks like gossip
– It looks like envy
– It looks like distance in relationships/friendships/family
– It looks like unsolicited advice about something/someone given in the guise of concern
– It looks like cold where once was warm
– It looks like rationalizations for why I don’t call or visit as much as I used to
– It looks like a verdict “You are where you are because of what you have done…”
To judge is to succumb to temptation and commit the very first sin – to take on the role of God and damage the world, oursleves and the ones we love as a result.
Judgement betrays a very deep lack of trust in the God who is often dragged into the courtroom as witness to corroborate our judgement thus reversing the roles we have been assigned.
We do not trust that the judgement of God will be enough to pay for the hurt we feel we have been caused. We do not believe it will come soon enough and so we assign ourselves the role and assume we have become instruments of judgement in the hands of a judging God when in fact we have thrust God to the corner and decided we can do this thing better than God.
To judge is to fall into the same pit that Asaph did in my favorite Psalm…Psalm 73 (A Psalm of Asaph)
Surely God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.
3 For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 They have no struggles;
their bodies are healthy and strong.[a]
5 They are free from common human burdens;
they are not plagued by human ills.
6 Therefore pride is their necklace;
they clothe themselves with violence.
7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity[b];
their evil imaginations have no limits.
8 They scoff, and speak with malice;
with arrogance they threaten oppression.
9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven,
and their tongues take possession of the earth.
10 Therefore their people turn to them
and drink up waters in abundance.[c]
11 They say, “How would God know?
Does the Most High know anything?”
12 This is what the wicked are like—
always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.
13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure
and have washed my hands in innocence.
14 All day long I have been afflicted,
and every morning brings new punishments.
15 If I had spoken out like that,
I would have betrayed your children.
16 When I tried to understand all this,
it troubled me deeply
17 till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their final destiny.
18 Surely you place them on slippery ground;
you cast them down to ruin.
19 How suddenly are they destroyed,
completely swept away by terrors!
20 They are like a dream when one awakes;
when you arise, Lord,
you will despise them as fantasies.
21 When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.
23 Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
27 Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
28 But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.
Do you see the mistake Asaph made? He lost hope and faith as a result of his judgement over the wealthy and Godless in Israel. It is interesting that by attempting consciously or sub-consciously to take up the role that is only for God to take up it is Asaph who is hurt – not the people he is directing his judgement at. As worship leader for Israel the potential form his judgement and pain to hurt the nation is enormous as well.
Thankfully Asaph is awakened to his mistake before it can go too far. How does Asaph become aware of his sin?
“When I tried to understand all this,
it troubled me deeply
till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their final destiny.”
Asaph entered the sanctuary of God; that is he intentionally sought out the presence of God. For Asaph this most certainly meant the tabernacle, for us it might mean a church sanctuary or a sun room in the morning with coffee and our Bible as we actively wait on God or even a table at a busy Starbucks with our headphones on listening to the latest Avicii album – the key is intentionality.
When we actively and humbly come before God and present the problem (real or perceived) of other people in our lives I can guarantee you the response will not be – “You need to continue to judge them and ensure they know how horrible you think they have been”. More likely you will hear words or promptings along the lines of “this is a child of mine, as you are a child of mine…leave them to me and continue to do as I have commanded – love, pray, forgive, be merciful and worship me in peace and joy”.