Judging and Judgment (7)
Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? 1 Corinthians 6.1-3
Appointed as judges
We have seen that the work of judgment, which Jesus appointed to His apostles, has already begun. The book of Acts reports the exciting results that God brought about through the sound judgment of Peter, Paul, Barnabas, James, and the other apostles, as they launched the worldwide mission of Jesus and rooted it firmly in the soil of the Roman Empire.
In the process of carrying out Jesus’ mandate, the apostles drafted many inspired works to help us in understanding their mind and the mind of Christ. The New Testament opens the mysteries of the Old Testament in exciting ways, so that now, just as in the days of the apostles, we have access to all the counsel of God to help us grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus (Acts 20.27; 2 Pet. 3.18), and to fit us for every good work for which we have been redeemed (2 Tim. 3.15-17; Eph. 2.8-10).
To every believer is assigned a work of judging and judgment. Every day we must make choices and decisions, take steps and walk a certain way, relate to others by a set of disciplines, and do all our work as unto the Lord and for His glory. We are always judging and exercising judgment, and the combined judgment of all the followers of Jesus Christ has potential to turn our upside-down world rightside-up for Jesus Christ (Acts 17.1-9).
In the remaining three parts of this series we’re going to look more carefully at the details of what a life of judging and judgment entails. In Part 2 we’ll consider the nature and scope of the judging and judgment God has called us to exercise. Part 3 will look more carefully at the distinctive features of the righteous judgment we are to use in judging the world. And Part 4 will show us how to apply the work of God’s judgment in specific areas of life for the Kingdom and glory of God.
Let’s take a closer preview look at what’s coming in this series.
Part 2: Judge Not?
As we mentioned earlier in this study, some Christians will certainly have pause over the matter of judging the world. They will remember that Jesus said we should not judge others, lest we come under judgment ourselves.
But as we shall see, that statement is often taken out of content and left incomplete by those who shy away from their appointed task of judging the world. No one can avoid exercising judgment. Even those who do not have faith in the Lord must make choices and decisions, follow a certain path in life, and determine how they will conduct their relationships and carry out their work. Every area of our lives requires judging and judgment, including what we observe from the example or hear from the advice of others.
So we cannot avoid judging and judgment. We simply need more insight from Jesus and His Word as to what that entails. We do not judge as the world judges, but, following the guidelines of the Old and New Testaments, we want to judge with righteous judgment, for this is how we hope to be judged ourselves.
In Part 2 of our series, To Judge the World, we’ll consider the question, “Judge Not?” and discover a more Biblical view of this inescapable responsibility.
Part 3: Exercising Judgment
Following on the teaching of Part 2, in Part 3, “Exercising Judgment,” we’ll examine more closely what this inescapable duty requires of us. Judging and judgment begin with ourselves, of course, as we come before the Lord and His searching Word and Spirit, so that He can convict us of any sins and shed light on our daily path.
As we go out into our world each day, our calling is not to point out every person’s failing, nor even to express our judgments at every opportunity. We must be reluctant judges, addressing only matters that can edify others and advance the cause of Christ and His Kingdom. We must also make sure that our judgments are generous, righteous, consistent, restorative, and joyful in nature.
When we judge like Jesus judged, and as God intended from the beginning of His Word, we bring light and life into every situation. And although this does not guarantee that everyone will be pleased with our judgment, it does ensure that God will be glorified, and we will know His pleasure in all our judging and judgments.
Part 4: To Judge the World
The Church, as the Body of Christ, and each of us as individual members of the Church, must prepare ourselves and exercise vigilance in judging the world and exposing its folly as the Lord leads. Our times can be confusing, and the worldviews we confront are subtle and often dangerous. We need to be firmly grounded in God’s Law – and all His Word – if we’re going to make sense of our times and keep from being blown here and there by the false winds of unbelief. In many arenas – political, social, environmental, vocational, and more – we will be called upon to exercise the righteous judgment of Christ.
But we also need to know how to relate to the world of culture, how to make the most of everyday opportunities for conversation, and how to show hope to people for whom hope is but a fleeting and often elusive ideal.
The saints of God do, indeed, judge the world, every day, in every situation. But only as we learn to judge as God intendsand as Jesus and the apostles demonstrate will our judging and judgment bring the shalom of God into the everyday situations of our lives.
As believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we do not shun the calling to judge the world. Rather, we take it up circumspectly and with joy. We must make sure that we understand this calling, that we are daily preparing to embrace it, and that our judging and judgments are a source of grace, truth, and shalomto our sad and weary world.
1. Think about a typical day in your own life. In how many different situations are you required to make some judgment?
2. People frequently associate judgmentwith condemnation. But only God can exercise this kind of judgment. That being the case, what must our judging and judgment entail? If we do not judge to condemn, then why?
3. Wouldn’t this be a good series to study with someone else? Make copies of the Part 1 PDF (see below) and share them with some friends. Urge them to read it and work through the questions for each lesson, and at the end of the study. Then get together to discuss what you’ve learned. Make a commitment then to study all four parts in this series, To Judge the World.
Next steps – Preparation: Make a list of some friends with whom to share this study. Seek the Lord about this effort, asking Him for wisdom and direction as you consider studying this four-part series with others.
T. M. Moore
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This week’s study is part 1of a 4-part series, To Judge the World. Each part consists of seven lessons and is available as a free PDF download at the end of the study. Click here to download Part 1, Judging and Judgment.
An excellent companion to this series is our book, The Ground for Christian Ethics. Here you’ll discover the basis on which Christians learn to judge with righteous judgment. You can order a copy by clicking here.And when you order, we’ll send you a free copy of Bricks and Rungs: Poems on Calling.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.