Judge Joyously

Judging with righteous judgment brings us into the joy of the Lord.

Righteous Judgment (7)

We have thought, O God, on Your lovingkindness,
In the midst of Your temple.
According to Your name, O God,
So is Your praise to the ends of the earth;
Your right hand is full of righteousness.
Let Mount Zion rejoice,
Let the daughters of Judah be glad,
Because of Your judgments. 
Psalm 48.9-11

Reluctant to judge?
It is instructive that this passage begins in lovingkindness, moves into praise and righteousness, and ends in gladness and rejoicing, and all because of the judgments of God.

Even though judging and judgment are unavoidable, many Christians will balk at the prospect. We don’t think we’re qualified. We’ve convinced ourselves that nobody cares what we think and nothing we might do will change a situation. We say we shouldn’t make such a big deal out of everything; not everything matters, after all. So we fail to speak a word of kindness when the opportunity arises. Or we hesitate to offer an opinion on some issue or practice. Or we make frivolous, unfruitful choices in how we use our time, simply because they’re more convenient or less risky. We hesitate to do a good work or speak a true word because we lack confidence or boldness, and we don’t want to upset anyone.

Rather than judge with righteousness at every opportunity, we give place to the evil of the times by judging not at all. Thus, we fail to usher in the shalom of God.

Our text encourages us to think better about our calling to judge the world. The judgments of God issue from His lovingkindness. Because He loves the world, He makes sure that His true and righteous judgments are operating throughout it (Ps. 19.9; 105.7). The judgments of God are grounded in Himself and His Law of liberty (Jms. 2.12), freeing us from sin and evil into life as God intends. The judgments of God bring praise to Him because they inject the eternal and righteous God into the lives and situations of people in real, albeit small ways. By the judgments of God, righteousness confronts our present evil age, and the gladness and rejoicing God knows within Himself are introduced to the world.

So when we fail in our calling to judge the world, for whatever reason, we deprive ourselves of the gladness of the Lord, and the people and situations of our lives are deprived of His joy.

The joy of God’s judgment
We do not often link the ideas of judgment and joy. Judgmentinvokes ideas of displeasure, disappointment, condemnation, resentment, and the like. As long as this is our view of judging and judgment, it’s no wonder we’re not more active and consistent in judging the world.

But the judgment of God is the means whereby His Kingdom comes on earth as it is in heaven. Through His judgment against His own Son, our sins are forgiven and a sure way into the presence of God has been provided. In His presence are fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Ps. 16.11). 

When the Holy Spirit comes to save us, He judges our sins and sinfulness, leading us to confess our sins, repent, and believe the Good News of forgiveness and joy in Jesus.

And when we judge with righteous judgment, out of loving hearts seeking the shalomof God, we open ourselves to the joy of the Lord and offer the benefits of His Kingdom – righteousness, peace, and joy – to the world.

The judgments of God are in all the earth, so that all the earth might know Hisshalom and enter into the joy of Jesus’ reign. When we judge with righteous judgment, no matter how great or small the situation, we engage the joy of the Lord and become joy-bringers to our world.

Rejoice in judging and judgment
But let’s be clear about this much: The joy that comes from judging with righteous judgment comes neither from our work of judging and judgment nor from the consequences that issue therefrom. Joy is not grounded in temporal circumstances, whether those we create by our acts of judging or those that ensue from the choices, decisions, and courses of action we take.

Joy is in the Lord, and the joy we know in this life comes from being in the joy of the Lord because we are in Him and His will when we judge with righteous judgment. The reality of that joy, that overriding sense of wellbeing that nothing can alter or disturb, is to be found only in the Lord, in His presence, by our acts of righteous judgment nestled in the joy that inheres in Him alone. Joy in judging comes from the Lord, and whether our acts of judging and judgment work out as we’d hoped or bring us into disfavor with our present, sinful age, we can know joy.

Let lovingkindness guide your acts of judging and judgment, so that when you judge, judge joyously. Seek the shalom of God, that He may be praised and that His gladness and rejoicing may flourish in every aspect of your life. Follow the righteousness of Jesus in your everyday choices, decisions, words, and deeds. Judge with righteous judgment, and you will know the joy that comes from being in and with the Lord of joy.

For reflection
1.  What is joy? How does joy differ from happiness? Why does joy not come from temporal circumstances?

2.  Our acts of judging and judgment offer the joy of the Lord to the world. Does that mean the world will always receive it? Explain.

3.  Joy is found only in the Lord. How do our acts of righteous judgment bring us into that joy?

Next steps – Transformation: Are you finding that you’re becoming more conscious of and conscientious about judging with righteous judgment? Why or why not?

T. M. Moore

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This week’s study is part 3 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.

You are a joy-bringer to your world. Or are you? Order our book, 
Joy to Your World!, and learn how God can make you a source of joy to others (click here).

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.

T.M. Moore

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. 

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