“Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.”
— Romans 14:10 (NRSV)
One of our greatest human struggles in becoming the people of God, and as individuals becoming persons of God, is our propensity to judge people and situations. We know we shouldn’t judge, and yet we still do.
As people, we’re all so different—in many ways, per Paul’s context, weak or strong. Our views make sense to us, but not necessarily to others. Theirs we find fickle, too.
The apostle Paul put it plainly in Romans 14:12 that we, each of us, as individual persons, “will be accountable to God” before the Divine Judgement Seat. That, and that alone, is the reason that judgments are wrong. Who are we to judge?
But still, we do judge. Still we condemn. And if we don’t act in these ways we certainly think in these ways. God knows there is good reason to explain this struggle we have. But, has not God provided a way out of this struggle?
Historical Reasons We Judge
Biblical theology argues a compelling case for the reason we judge: sin entered the world.
Now by nature humanity sins, and our particular struggle, one that is currently in focus, is that by instinct we judge. Our minds and hearts are assessing all the time. Sometimes we’re even paid to assess. It’s our nature to judge, and some of these judgments will lead to indifference, criticism and condemnation.
We have such a strong battle on our hands to defeat this human default to find fault. We know we shouldn’t judge and yet we still do. What can possibly help us?
Embracing New Creation Life Through Repentance
If we can admit that there is a historical reason that we judge people and situations, and that we often cannot help doing this, we can recognise our need of God’s grace through repentance. To recognise how far we’ve strayed in our judgments is the godly portion of a consecrated consciousness.
Living life as a new creation, which is a New Covenant reality for the born-again believer, is a thing we enjoy by status, but we still frequently fall short. We do not always act like we are born-again.
The way out of the mire of the old life, that makes fleeting returns, is habitual repentance. It’s the intentional merciful, just, and humble life eloquently stated in Micah 6:8.
For a born-again believer, who is also a sinner, the process of repentance is a fundamental necessity. Only by repentance can we be forgiven for our judgments; so better to be forgiven now than to be held to account before the Judgment Seat of God.
Judging people is a very human thing to do. When we understand this we know we need God’s help. The Lord will hold each of us to account. It’s better to be forgiven now, by our repentance to turn back to God having usurped his role. All judgments may be forgiven by drawing close to God.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.