Judge Not? (7)
We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us—a sphere which especially includes you. 2 Corinthians 10.13
A judge’s limits
One who is appointed to the work of judging recognizes that certain limits govern this work.
The scope of a local judge, for example, is not as broad – either materially or geographically – as that of a federal judge sitting in a circuit court. And the scope of judges on a circuit court is not as great as that of the justices who sit on the United States Supreme Court. Each judge is limited in the decisions he can make by the scope of authority granted to his bench. Each judge serves the public best by understanding and judging within the scope of his authority, as defined by the Constitution and other relevant statutes.
The same is true for all believers. We are tasked with the duty of judging the world, as Paul explained and as we have been considering in this series (1 Cor. 6.1, 2). The acts of judging and judgment which believers perform further the shalomof God, so that righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit increase.
But believers are not called to judge all the world. It is not my responsibility, for example, to tell you how to run your business, keep your home, raise your children, or vote in the next election. These are your responsibilities, your choices, and you must judge with righteous judgment before the Lord in these and all the other situations of your life.
I may have opinions that speak in a general way to such topics, and I am free to voice them. And it’s a good idea for me to develop such opinions, taking every thought captive for obedience to Christ, because matters pertaining to work, home and family life, and many more present themselves to me in my world.
The point is, as Paul was insisting in our text, that to each of us as believers is appointed a “sphere” in which we must exercise righteous judgment and seek the shalom of God. We might think of that sphere as our Personal Mission Field, because it is the place to which Jesus has sent us as He was sent, to bring near the Kingdom of God and His shalom (Jn. 20.21).
Know your world
Jesus was sent by the Father to a particular place and time. That place can generally be identified as the land of promise God had assigned for His people – the lands of Judea and Samaria, and certain adjacent cities and provinces. Jesus was not sent to China. He was not sent to Europe. Jesus’ Personal Mission Field was made up of people and cultures, and He was sent there to announce, embody, and bring near the Kingdom of God. That Kingdom would come at last with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and Jesus worked diligently and faithfully throughout His ministry to ready His Personal Mission Field for that event.
Jesus has sent every believer to the world with a similar mission. Each of us has a Personal Mission Field, which consists of places and people to whom we are appointed agents of God’s shalom. We are the peace-bringers, showing the work of Christ in our lives and calling the world to repent of sin, receive the Good News of Christ and His Kingdom, and enter the rest and shalom of God. Only the Holy Spirit can make that happen, but we must understand that we have been sent like Jesus to be always preparing our world for the coming of the King and His Kingdom, whether in the here and now or the there and then.
We are called to expose and overthrow the works of sin and darkness throughout our jurisdiction (Eph. 5.8-14). We bring the light of truth, beauty, and goodness into a world where such ideals are confused, denied, or ignored. We work for forms of culture that edify and empower people to know and enjoy God’s shalom. We recognize all the people we see day-in and day-out as image-bearers of God, whether or not they know or obey Him. Like Jesus, we call people by name; exemplify for them life in the Kingdom of God; stand up to lies and deceptions and expose them; confront evils, bring healing and compassion, and teach the ways of righteousness and shalom to all who would listen.
Our Personal Mission Field is our jurisdiction, and we are called to judge it righteously, as Jesus did His.
Judging your Personal Mission Field
Paul gives us four objectives to strive for in judging our Personal Mission Field. First, we must work to make our Personal Mission Field a place of boasting in the Lord (vv. 13, 15, 17). Everyone in our Personal Mission Field should know that we know, delight in, and love the Lord. They should hear us talking about Him, catch us singing or praying to Him, and not be surprised that we frequently extol His many virtues to them.
Second, we want our Personal Mission Field to be a place of mutual benefit and edification (v. 15). That is, we want everyone in our Personal Mission Field to flourish and realize as much of the image of God as they can in all their relationships, roles, and responsibilities. We work to build people up and to learn from them, so that they might build us up as well. Our Personal Mission Field should be a place of mutual edification, not of backbiting, ugly competition, gossiping, or indifference to others.
Third, we will do our best to make sure everyone in our Personal Mission Field hears the Good News about Jesus (v. 14). We will talk about Jesus to people, show by our lives the difference Jesus can make, invite people to read about Jesus or to join us in reading one of the gospels, bring them to church – whatever it takes to make sure everyone in our world hears or has the opportunity to hear the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Finally, we will take every opportunity to expand our Personal Mission Field (vv. 15, 16). We will welcome new people into our sphere and be open to adding new places and responsibilities to our dossier. Since He poured out His Spirit, Jesus has expanded His Personal Mission Field to the whole world and every generation. He encourages us to do the same.
Your Personal Mission Field is your jurisdiction for exercising righteous judgment. As you pay more careful attention to the people, situations, and places of your Personal Mission Field, you will find abundant opportunities to exercise righteous judgment and to bring the shalom of the Lord into your everyday life.
So we need to make sure we’re up to the task, ready to judge when judgment is required. And making sure that we are ready will be the focus of Part 3 of our study.
1. Have you mapped out your Personal Mission Field? Watch this brief video, then download the worksheet and get started.
2. Of the four goals for your Personal Mission Field mentioned in this article, in which are you most consistent? In which of these do you need to improve?
3. What are the greatest obstacles you face in working your Personal Mission Field?
Next steps – Transformation: Recruit a Christian friend to be a prayer partner with you as you work your Personal Mission Field. Challenge your friend to map out his Personal Mission Field. Meet regularly to share and pray.
T. M. Moore
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This week’s study is part 2 of a 4-part series, To Judge the World. You can download all 7 lessons in this study, as well as all the studies in this series by clicking here.
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.
Know Your Jurisdiction
- T.M. Moore
- November 9, 2018
You don't need to judge everything. Just the things that come your way.
Judge Not? (7)
T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.