For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south. But God is the Judge: He puts down one and exalts another. (Psa. 75:6-7)
One of the many ways in which God is described in the Bible is The Judge. This means He has the final authority to give a verdict concerning any matter or any person. While humans may offer opinions and perspectives, or even suggest who is right or wrong in a matter, the final authority rests with God. Similarly, God also reserves the right to pronounce the appropriate sentence or punishment for every misdeed or He can choose to be merciful, as He often does.
Let me state clearly that the purpose of this piece is not to excuse the wickedness of man towards one another. There are human laws that address infringements on another person’s rights just as there are Christian guidelines for addressing how we relate with one another. The Bible calls for repentance on the part of the offender and mercy on the part of the offended. It also calls for appropriate disciplinary measures from church leaders to ensure order in God’s house.
The purpose of this writing is to explain how to mentally deal with the human flaws we encounter every day, including our own. It is very important to be slow to judge when we see an action, speech or behaviour that comes short of our standards. The first obvious reason for this is that our own standards are flawed. So even the actions we commend may be found wanting by God’s standards while those we condemn may be acquitted by God for reasons unclear to us.
The second reason we should not judge is that we all have partial knowledge. God alone has complete knowledge of all things, including the secrets of our hearts. We will be unfair in judgment when we pass verdicts with limited knowledge. I will offer a third reason to avoid judging: because we all need mercy. When we do come short, we all want to be cut some slack and offered another chance. If we want to receive God’s mercy, we should offer even the worst sinners same mercy.
So, if we should not judge, what should we do? Pray. Pray that the flawed person (in your view) will be helped by God, that they will recognize their flaws and make necessary amends. Pray you will find grace to do better if found in a similar situation. Pray that all hidden things will come to light, and that those who are hurt will be healed. Encourage those who are repentant and confront those who are unrepentant with God’s Word with a view to restore them in the faith.
Finally, avoid judging yourself. It is wise to examine oneself periodically using the light of God’s Word. But it is unwise to commend or condemn yourself as a result of such examination. If you think you are doing well, ask for more light from God to guide your steps. If you think you are coming short, ask for grace from God to please Him. But do not indulge in pride or self-pity over your goodness or inadequacy – it is unwise. The One who will judge all things is God.
But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. (I Cor. 4:3-4)