I debated off and on about whether or not I was going to share on this topic. When it comes to judgment, most people automatically jump to the conclusion that it’s bad, evil, wrong, unmerciful, etc…
But I can’t escape the pressing reality – especially as I study Scripture – that judgment is, in fact, the exact opposite. Judgment is good. Necessary. Righteous.
Now, most people probably want to point me to Matthew 7:1 that says, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” But most people neglect the rest of the chapter, which expounds upon what Jesus was saying in verse 1. Remember, the contextual study or Scripture is important. You simply cannot grab a verse and use it for whatever you want. When you do that, you become an abuser of the Word. You become one of those people that you claim to hate by manipulating the Word and what it says to force people to fall in line with your opinions.
The next five verses say this: “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
See the context? See how Jesus wraps it up nicely at the end there? Basically, Jesus is saying to judge… with righteous judgment.
I could stop here because the Word speaks for itself. But I want to talk about this a little bit more and hit on a few other points.
Here’s another argument people make, which is another one of my personal favorites. Whenever someone calls another person out on their open sinfulness and the person replies with, “God is my judge. Not you.” Well, that person isn’t entirely wrong, but honestly the fact that God is their judge should terrify them! He is the one who will divide the wicked from the righteous, the lukewarm from the passionate, the chaff from the wheat, the worldly from the Godly, the compromised from the consecrated. God is our judge. And one day, each of us will stand before His throne (referred to in Scripture as “the great white throne of judgment”) and take account for every aspect of our lives – every word we said, every thought we had, every emotion and feeling, every desire left unchecked, every attitude uncorrected, every action taken, every opinion believed, and more. We will hold an account for our lives.
For some of us, the day of judgment will be a glorious day where, once and for all, our sins and failures are piled up before us and before the Lord and He sets them on fire and scatters the ashes to the wind. To those of us we will hear the words we’ve longed our whole lives to hear: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
For others, the day of judgment will be a horrific day where they will stand before His throne and their lives will have amounted to nothing. Many of these will be people who claimed to be religious, who did works in His name, but will hear on that fateful day the words no one ever wants to hear: “Depart from me, for I never knew you.”
God is our judge. He seeks justice. He desires it. He is passionate about it. How can anyone dare say that judgment is wrong, evil, or cruel when judgment is a valid aspect of the character of God?
Judgment is good because God is good. And as His children, we are called to judge rightly. We do it every day – even those who invoke the “judge not” mantra. They make assessments about whether or not people are safe to be around, whether or not someone is good enough to hire, or whether or not someone is worth dating. Literally every human on this planet judges people and situations. It’s called wisdom. It’s called discernment.
Judgment protects us. It keeps us safe from people who would use and abuse us. It keeps us safe from toxic situations and people. It keeps us secure and stable. My fear is that we live in a culture that is so anti-judgment that we’ll begin to see people even in the church let their guards down for people and situations that will destroy them. And I believe we’re beginning to see that already.
Finally, judgment is good because it changes us. When we’re living in sin even as believers, God sends His Holy Spirit to come and convict us of our sin. You call this unjust? I call this mercy! It is because of His mercy that He warns us when we’re on our way toward destruction. It is His mercy that compels Him to convict us when we sin or fail! Thank God for mercy! Thank God for conviction and the fact that He cares enough about us to tell us plainly when we are in the wrong!
People hate the idea of conviction and want to pretend that’s not a function of the Holy Spirit because they don’t want to give up what He might be telling them to give up. But be careful that you do not resist the conviction of the Holy Spirit because stubbornness toward guard – that inner arching is the back – will only harden your heart and shut up your ears until you can no longer hear the voice of God.
I pity the man or woman who despise judgment so much that they would sooner stop hearing the voice of God than let go of whatever it is that is causing them to compromise.
Judgment is good because God is good and He is judge. As His children who carry His royal blood in our veins and walk under and with His authority, we are authorized to judge rightly – people, situations, and mostly ourselves.
I challenge you, friends, to consider your life. Consider the things you value, the words you say, the way you talk, the life you live… judge whether or not those things are worthy of a “Well done” or a “Depart from me.”
And when you are done, thank God that He is still speaking to you and that you are still listening.