On Judgment and Judging Not - Not Even Our Judges
March 20, 2017
Judge - The defendant will rise.
Defendant - Yes sir, Your Honor.
Judge - This court finds you not-guilty of the charge of Grand Larceny.
Defendant - Thank you, Your Honor. Does that mean I can keep the watch?
Beloved, you do not ultimately answer to me for who you are. I am not your judge.
I was reflecting on judgment and our tendency to be judgmental from the Psalms about two years ago, and I posted what follows.
(I said that then, I say it now – No one who reads this need to answer to me.)
I am not your judge and if I try to be, I stand the chance of being wrong. I cannot even judge my judges. I cannot know your motives. I cannot know theirs.
We have all been victims of unfair judgment and we have all dished it out.
If you ask me about you, you are giving me more information and seeking my accountability. We need to be accountable. It is healthy. I will prayerfully and tentatively give you a reflection of what I see.
When I must comment of social behaviors, trends, evils, and corporate sin, I surely will, but I know little of the heart state of the individual sinner. I am not gifted with that sort of prophetic gift.
Are we speaking truth to power or just about power?
To "know them by their fruits" does not give me license to go beyond necessity in this task. Even church discipline is highly regulated by scripture. If I am indignant about someone's exercise of power over the powerless in the public square, I must leave open the possibility that I do not know everything about it.
With that in mind, David tells us what it feels like to be the brunt of unfair criticism,
"More in number than the hairs of my head
are those who hate me without cause;
mighty are those who would destroy me,
those who attack me with lies.
What I did not steal
must I now restore?"
(Psalm 69:4 ESV)
The higher your profile, the more likely it is to happen.
But here is the deal: If you are being criticized unfairly, that is bad, but there is probably something for which criticism is due .... by God.
" O God, you know my folly;
the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you."
(Psalm 69:5 ESV)
The psalmist is transparent before God and willing for God to scrutinize his heart.
He is a leader, but he knows he must be led.
He has already prayed:
"Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire,
where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
and the flood sweeps over me.
I am weary with my crying out;
my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim
with waiting for my God."
(Psalm 69:1-3 ESV)
This is personal and he pours it out before God. The song is one any can sing.
This man in leadership knows that in high profile leadership, we can lose friends and family, disappoint followers, discourage others, and dishonor God.
" Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me,
O Lord GOD of hosts;
let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me,
O God of Israel.
For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach,
that dishonor has covered my face.
I have become a stranger to my brothers,
an alien to my mother's sons."
(Psalm 69:6-8 ESV)
He does not want that to happen, so he prays against his mortal enemies in subsequent verses. He is praying for protection and vindication.
He knows his own motives and they seem right to him. Yet, he is unfairly maligned for doing what he thinks is right.
" For zeal for your house has consumed me,
and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.
When I wept and humbled my soul with fasting,
it became my reproach.
When I made sackcloth my clothing,
I became a byword to them.
I am the talk of those who sit in the gate,
and the drunkards make songs about me."
(Psalm 69:9-12 ESV)
He is skewered on late night TV, lampooned in comedy and raked over the coals by both Fox and CNN.
He knows that he cannot vindicate himself in the eyes of his detractors. He knows that he cannot make them ashamed of their behavior. Only God can put them down and lift him up.
But he also knows that God can help and he is in the position of having to deal with the only wise judge who is also our advocate.
NOW - IF YOU WANT TO DIG IN