- From the Cedar Street Times, Pacific Grove
What does God say about righteous judgment?
What is righteous judgment? Merriam-Webster defines righteous as: “acting in accord with divine or moral law; free from guilt or sin; morally right or justifiable.” and judgment as: “the process of forming an opinion or evaluation by discerning and comparing.” So, a righteous judgment is an opinion or evaluation based on a divine or moral law, which is free from guilt or sin.
Being free from guilt or sin means we are not making this judgment based on our own selfish desires. We have nothing to gain personally from it. This judgment is based solely on what is law, either divine or moral. Can we picture Lady Justice, blindfolded, holding a sword and the scales of justice? This is the kind of judgment God calls us to make, Jn 7:24, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” Personal prejudice and self-interest play no part in the righteous judgment process. This is why God asks us to reason before we make any decisions, Prov 18:13, “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” How many of us today actually listen to another person’s opinion, before we form our judgment? How can we ever have a righteous judgment when we answer a matter before we hear it?
None of us are perfect. We all need to learn how to discern which of the many paths before us we will follow. This discernment process requires judgment, “Do I turn to the right or the left?” The righteous judgment God presents to us in the Bible will lead us along the path to Him. He wants us to show His love to everyone, not just to the wealthy, beautiful or powerful, Rom 2:11, “For there is no respect of persons with God.” This is the only way to righteous judgment; we cannot blindly favor some people over others. Each of us will only be judged by our own choices, or as God puts it, our fruit, Lk 6:45, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” The path to eternal life is a choice and God is allowing each of us to make it; either we will choose to do good or evil. What we do is but a sign of our choice to either love Jesus or to reject Him, it is the fruit of that choice. We can love Him, because He first loved us enough to die for us, 1 Jn 4:19, “We love him, because he first loved us.”and Jn 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Righteous judgment begins with a decision to judge ourselves. We must first look at our own fruit to see if we are truly in love with Jesus. Each day we see the fruit of others and weigh them against our own fruit. This is how our world asks us to judge ourselves, but fortunately, it is not what God calls us to do. He wants us to love everyone, including ourselves. This love will produce the good fruit we can witness along the path to God. It is the good fruit we will enjoy in heaven. We do not have to look at other people’s fruit; we need only look to the Bible to see what good fruit looks like. We do not need to judge others. We do not need to criticize their fruit, God calls us to love them and show them how much He loves them. When they feel His love, they will eventually seek the good fruit, as a result of falling in love with Jesus. I have personally witnessed this happening many times over the past thirty years. Criticizing others in the name of Jesus only serves as a stumbling block, a stumbling block we place between them and God.
This does not mean we accept the evil we see in this world and call it good. It means we see the evil for what it is, we avoid it as much as possible, and when asked, we identify it as evil. When the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman caught in the act of adultery to Jesus, He demonstrated this principle, by asking those who were truly righteous to cast the first stone, Jn 8:7, “So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” Whenever we feel compelled to cast a stone of criticism, we would do well to remember this lesson. Jesus was not judging these men; He was asking each of them to judge themselves. This is why He asked us to remove the beam from our own eye before we consider the mote in our brother’s eye, Matt 7:3, “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” Yes, righteous judgment begins with a decision to judge ourselves.
We cannot possibly understand another person’s situation. We cannot know where they are on the path to God, so we must love them and support them in this life, with the hope they will find the path to God. As an example, we would have condemned Saul for his persecution of the early Christian church. However, when Saul encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus he was transformed into Paul. How many people did the transformed Paul lead to Christ? How many of them would not have been able to find Christ without Paul? Since we do not see the bigger picture, God tells us to let Him do the judging. Jesus wants us to learn from the sins of the Pharisees, Matt 23:27, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.” Their self-righteousness turned them into hypocrites, wanting God to forgive their sins, while they forgave not the sins others. There is no room for Pharisee type judgments in God’s advice, Rom 2:1, “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.”
There is a difference between criticizing and sharpening, Prov 27:17, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” Those of us who have accepted Jesus as our savior are in the process of repenting and will welcome reminders from fellow Christians, whom we have asked to help us in this process. Friends providing this kind of help must do it lovingly, Eph 4:14-15, “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” This is how we help each other grow into the person God created us capable of becoming.
What justice then do the oppressed have for their injuries in this life? God has made two provisions; first He has placed leaders, at every level of leadership and in every nation, who are responsible to deliver justice to all they serve. For those who do not get justice in this life, He plans on returning at the end of time to deliver justice to all. This is why He asks us to pray for our leaders, 1 Tim 2:1-2, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” and to patiently wait for His return, Rev 20:13, “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” God has told us and He will do all that He says He will do, Numb 23:19, “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?”
God is righteous and His judgments are righteous, and we can depend on Jesus to make everything right on that day of judgment, Acts 17:31, “Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” God raised Jesus from the dead so we can have faith He will do all He says He will do.
Comments, opposing opinions and suggestions for future topics are all welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.