Human vs. Divine Judgment

The word “judgment” carries a lot of meaning in our society.  What is the role of man in judgment?  What does it mean to “judge” someone?  When I use the word “judge” I don’t simply mean to evaluate whether someone’s actions are right or wrong.  I don’t think that is what “judging” is in a biblical sense.  Rather, I think that judging in a biblical sense carries with it the administration of punishment.  With this definition in mind I hope you will agree with me that it is very difficult for people to “judge” others.  We have a large and complicated legal system in place that is designed to ensure fairness and equity in passing judgment (including punishment) and though it might be the best judicial system in the world, it is still badly broken. It is inarguable that money, race and politics play significant roles in what judgment is made.  We just can’t get it right.  Paul speaks to this in Romans chapter 2.  Here are the first three verses:  “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?”  Human beings are very poor judges because of our own sin.  We pass judgment on others when we do the same thing.  This is not true for God.  God’s judgment is according to truth.  As a perfect judge, God is able to pass both the conviction and the punishment.  This should bring us comfort.

One more thought. Mankind’s inability to pass a correct and just punishment doesn’t mean that we are not able, or even responsible, to confront those who are doing wrong.  God’s word and the presence of the Holy Spirit help us know what is right and wrong.  In a legal analogy, we are to serve as the attorneys, pointing out what is right and wrong and when possible, talking to those who we think are in error, pointing them to the ultimate judge, God.  Where we get in trouble is handing down the punishment.  Everyone judges and makes judgments about people every day.  But when we judge someone to be in error, it is not our job to inflict the punishment.  We are to leave that up to God.  Also, judgment is not always focused on wrong but should often be centered on what is right.  When you judge another’s actions as right, be quick to encourage and celebrate. Judging goes both ways.

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