“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. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.” ~ 1 Corinthians 4:3-5
We Christians seem to spend a lot of time judging. We seem to make it our favorite sport in the church. We judge those around us, we judge ourselves. We somehow think it’s our job to size a person up and see if they make the grade. And the problem is that the “grade” is usually an arbitrary one set up by our own standards.
We’ve done this so much that most of the world around us doesn’t even want to have any part in what they perceive as “Christianity.” Ask your average person what a “Christian” is, and “judgmental” or “condescending” will be somewhere near the top of the list.
The problem is that a judgmental attitude couldn’t be further from the Jesus we claim to serve. He frequently stood up the most for those who measured up the least. He constantly locked horns with the religious leaders of the day on His failure to condemn those considered to be “sinners.” In fact, in every instance where Jesus is harsh, it is always with the religious leaders who had set themselves up as judge over others, never with the sinners.
Paul takes this thought one step further and says “I don’t even judge myself. Even if I can’t think of any wickedness in myself, I know that I’m not saved because of that. My righteous acts don’t have anything to do with my salvation. God is the judge, and He has declared me ‘not guilty’ because of Christ and Christ alone.”
So here’s my question: If we are saved by Christ, totally independent of any righteous act on our own part, why shouldn’t we offer that same grace to others? If Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you,” shouldn’t we say the same thing? If Jesus was tough on the religious folk and easy on sinners, why are we often the exact opposite?
Paul makes it clear, I am not the judge. I’m not the prosecutor, I’m not even on the jury. I don’t get a say in anyone else’s judgment. I don’t even get a say in my own judgment. That really only leaves me with one alternative: grace.
And maybe that’s the way God planned it in the first place.