Sunday, September 2, 2012

Who's the Judge?

I have heard a few questions this week on the subject of our responsibility as believers to share what God has to say about some of the decisions we make in this life of ours.  As should be expected, the world often reacts in a negative way to the message of God yet we should not let that discourage us from fulfilling our responsibility to share the gospel and all that it says.  This is a post from a few years back that discusses the subject of the response we most often get from the world, and some thoughts on what our attitude should be.

"Don't judge me." "You're judging me." "The Bible says judge not lest you be judged." Have you ever heard those words directed to you? I know I have, yet many are unaware of the simple fact that if you do hear those words, it probably means you are busy doing what God asks of us. No, not judging others, but informing others of what God has said in His word concerning what He requires of us.

When I have taught about this in the past, I always like to use this example. Have you ever been pulled over by a policeman? Do you remember what it felt like when you saw the car pull up behind you? Not me! I wasn't doing anything wrong! Then the lights go on and he motions for you to pull over. You look in your mirror and watch as he slowly gets out of his car, adjusts his black robe and picks up his gavel before slowly walking to your car. Gotcha didn't I? Of course that's not what he looked like, because he is a law enforcement officer, not the judge. It is simply his job to tell you he observed you breaking the law. It is the judge you face in the courtroom who has the power to pass the sentence, and in reality, it is he alone that "judges" you.

Last week we discussed our responsibility to speak out about what we see happening in the world around us, and the fact that just like the prophets of old, we are in essence warning of God's coming judgment. The thought occurs to me that the Old Testament prophets probably heard "you're judging me" a whole lot. Of course, that did not stop them from doing what they were told by God to do, and neither should we. There is, of course, a more acceptable way of doing that and I believe we need to be sure we warn people with and attitude of love, and not with an attitude that could be interpreted as "judgmental". I'm sure we all have a passage or two in scripture that means something special to us, or one we seem to feel applies to us more than another. One of my very favorites is the following passage from the book of Psalms.

The law of the LORD [is] perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD [is] sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the LORD [are] right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD [is] pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the LORD [is] clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD [are] true [and] righteous altogether. More to be desired [are they] than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, [And] in keeping them [there is] great reward. 

Psalms 19:7-11 NKJV

I liked this Psalm so much that I memorized the whole chapter, and have tried to remind myself to quote it every day. One of the first things I noticed about this Psalm is how much David is saying he loves God's laws. Now just like anyone else, I would rather people not tell me what to do, so I wanted to discover why David was so desiring of knowing God's laws. What came to mind as I read this Psalm is that David concentrates on the positive results of following God's laws rather than the judgment that comes from disobeying. Not to say we are not warned of what could happen if we don't, but as we would say in this day and age, he concentrates on the "upside".

I look at this as a clue as to how we should approach fulfilling our obligation to speak out about what we see around us today. Accentuate the positive aspects of obeying God's laws, without minimizing the judgment that God says will certainly come. I have said before that when I encounter something unusual or out of the ordinary when studying scripture, it is Gods' way of making a point. Consider the following as an example. There occurs an unusual verse in the book of Zephaniah I want you to read. Why unusual? It is the only time in the entire Bible where every letter of the Hebrew alphabet is contained in just one verse. Guess what the subject of that verse is? That's right; Gods' coming judgment of this world.

"Therefore wait for Me," says the LORD, "Until the day I rise up for plunder; [fn] My determination [is] to gather the nations To My assembly of kingdoms, To pour on them My indignation, All My fierce anger; All the earth shall be devoured With the fire of My jealousy.
 Zephaniah 3:8 NKJV

Do you think it's possible God is trying to make a point here? Is it possible this verse is His way of emphasizing that a decision to reject Him and His laws has only one result? We know that the time where all the nations of the world will be gathered is during the Tribulation. The Bible also makes it abundantly clear what the scope of that coming judgment is.

That day [is] a day of wrath, A day of trouble and distress, A day of devastation and desolation, A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of trumpet and alarm Against the fortified cities And against the high towers "I will bring distress upon men, And they shall walk like blind men, Because they have sinned against the LORD; Their blood shall be poured out like dust, And their flesh like refuse." Neither their silver nor their gold Shall be able to deliver them In the day of the LORD's wrath; But the whole land shall be devoured By the fire of His jealousy, For He will make speedy riddance Of all those who dwell in the land. 
Zephaniah 1:14-18 NKJV

We see the signs of that coming time all around us today, and as the Bible tells us, when you see the signs you know He is near. Standing up as believers and speaking out about what we see, and using that as an opportunity to affirm Gods' laws and expectations of His people will most certainly occasion a response accusing us of judging others. But we are not the judges because we only speak out about what we see. The responsibility to judge and pass sentence is Gods' alone and He has promised He will certainly fulfill that duty.

The good news is that God is a forgiving God, and has promised to deliver anyone from that coming judgment by simply accepting His free gift of salvation and striving to follow His laws. May we be bold to share that good news with others in a spirit of love and forgiveness as we see the day approaching.

Keep watching.

( Originally posted November 15, 2009 )