“But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you... I do not even judge myself... It is the Lord who judges me.”
~1 Corinthians 4:3-4 (NRSV).
This is a thing the entire world needs to know — the unblemished truth. God is for us; never against.
We know this by the fact that judgment means nothing — and is premature — unless it comes from God. Yet, we need reminding; our human default, emotionally, is to fly off into some fancy-of-negative-attribution whenever conflict occurs.
We judge them or they judge us; the re-doubling self-analysis means we end up judging ourselves upon reflection. Whichever way we look at it, God doesn’t get a look in.
The Typical Nature of ‘Judgment’ Here on Earth
In the Apostle Paul’s Corinthian context, he was facing all sorts of inappropriate inquiry. Self-appointed ‘learned’ people were casting aspersions about what Paul had said and done regarding them.
If Paul wasn’t aware of their designs he may have reacted just like we’re tempted to react.
Someone judges us, we judge them, then later we condemn ourselves for falling for the trap.
Taking Paul’s example, we might remind ourselves of the appropriateness of our judgments, and the corresponding nature of our instinctual attributions — those we ‘arrive’ at without the process of considered inquiry.
As Christians we should want God’s will to come to pass; that is, that the truth is unveiled in eventual judgment — as the facts prevail themselves. Being that none of us can know the whole truth at all times, only one judgment is fitting.
Only One Judgment is Appropriate
The best of the Christian life is to know there is no condemnation in the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 8:1). Simply all freedom of grace propounds from this fact.
As we come back again and again to this truth — that only God’s judgment is appropriate via the portents of truth — we’re reminded of the power to live life freely, without fear of unfair, unjust reprisal.
This power comes to us when we live in ways that issue such freedom to others and to ourselves. So far as the morality underpinning decisions is concerned, we can’t possibly know, we don’t try and fill in the gaps, and we allow actions to settle and be made more fully known before we react. Wisdom is known by what follows (Matthew 11:28).
The burden of judgment, not resting with us or others, means we live with fresh conscience, unimpeded by the folly of falsity. We delay for God’s wisdom and truth to prevail. God needs no help in those matters. We get out of the emotional way.
This is an extravagant freedom — the pressure of the moment’s decision is removed from us. We can live freely and equally with all our contemporaries.
Life is never easier than when we live without the pressure of partiality.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.