To Judge the World (1)
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? 1 Corinthians 6.2
Judging and judgment
The burden of this series has been to show that, contrary to what we often hear, believers are called to judge the world, not to back down from opportunities to render an opinion, suggest a corrective action, proffer a gesture of kindness, or otherwise seek to bring the shalom of God to the world. We are called to judge the world, and that work of judging and judgment begins in “the smallest matters” of our lives, all the everyday situations where we have to make decisions and choices, take actions, or use our words to assert the truth of God in love.
In Part 1 of this series, “Judging and Judgment,” we saw that judging is inevitable. All human beings make judgments, for God has built it into the structure of our being to choose between things good and evil, right and wrong, true and false, reliable and unstable. So crucial are judging and judgment to the wellbeing of society, that God has established a structure for judgment within His economy. This structure begins within our own souls – where we think about, feel, and value situations and opportunities, weighing the best choices and courses of action to bring the peace and joy of God to others. From there it extends to all our relationships, roles, and responsibilities through structures of judgment ordained by God for human society.
Part 2, “Judge Not?” examined more specifically the frequently heard opinion that we ought not judge others, and showed that Jesus actually taught we must judge with righteous judgment, as we ourselves would want others to judge us. Jesus has appointed to each of us a “jurisdiction” within which to exercise righteous judgment. We may think of this as our Personal Mission Field – that array of places and people where God sends us each day as Jesus was sent, to bring near the Kingdom of God and His shalom. Whatever comes before us in this sphere, we must be prepared to judge with righteous judgment, including especially all the “small matters” of daily living.
Then, in Part 3, “Righteous Judgment,” we looked more specifically at what is involved in judging as Jesus did – according to righteousness. We saw that we are called to be diligent and prayerful in judging and judgment; that we must judge generously, esteeming others better than ourselves according to God’s Law and Word; and that we must be faithful in judging, not backing away out of fear or inconvenience, and resting in the joy of the Lord as we exercise righteous judgment.
The home stretch
As we turn into the home stretch of this study, it remains for us to accomplish two more objectives, which we will take up here in Part 4, “To Judge the World.”
We must show, first, that the judgments we are called to make are both ordained by God and are the means whereby He judges the world. In this part of our study, we will consider the teaching of Psalms 9 and 110, which will reinforce what we have previously discussed concerning the importance and inescapability of judging and judgment, and will show the connection between God’s judging the world for shalom and the everyday acts of judging and judgment which we perform.
In the second part of this study, we will consider more specifically the scope of our calling to judge the world, and what we must do to prepare for this work. Our work of judging and judgment begins with time, both the time God allots to us each day and the times in which we live. All our judgments are accomplished in time and with respect to matters – small and great – that occur in time. We need a clear understanding of time and how God intends it to be used if we are to judge the world with righteous judgment. And we need to understand the times in which we are called to judge the world if we are to judge with righteous judgment.
Then we will look at an example from the apostle Paul concerning the power of righteous judgment to bring the shalom of God to the world, even among those who do not believe in God and may even be regarded as His enemies. When push comes to shove, and people are in desperate straits, the judgment of God, exercised by His faithful, obedient, diligent, prayerful, and joyful people, can cause His shalom to obtain in even the stormiest of situations.
Finally, we’ll look at how to make righteous and edifying judgments about everyday situations and things: matters of culture, issues of morality, social situations and conditions, and even the use we make of the created world. We’ll need to concentrate on making our speech as gracious and edifying as we can, and on living out the hope that is within us. Our series will end by framing out that hope in more detail, for the shalom we seek is both in that hope and comes from that hope into the world through our acts of judging and judgment.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to judge the world. If we refuse or fail to take up this task, then we leave the world to the various dispositions of the lie (Ps. 12; Rom. 1.18ff) and the deceptive and destructive influences of spiritual forces of evil (Eph. 5.15-17). Beginning with “the smallest matters,” and being faithful to judge these with righteous judgment, we may expect the Lord to fill our Personal Mission Fields with His shalom, as the reality of the risen Christ becomes established in all our relationships, roles, and responsibilities, and He fills our world with Himself (Eph. 4.7-10).
Let this be our goal, and let us commit to the hard and daily work of judging the world, that the peace of God, which passes all understanding, may guard our hearts and bless our world through Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace (Phil. 4.6, 7; Is. 9.6, 7).
1. In case you need to review the first three parts of this series, they are available by clicking here. Download them all and share with a friend.
2. What are the biggest obstacles to your taking up the calling to judge the world? What can you do to overcome these?
3. How can you help your fellow believers to accept and improve their calling to judge the world?
Next steps – Transformation: Pray each day that God will show you the situations in which you will need to exercise righteous judgment. Seek His wisdom, mercy, and grace to prepare and enable you to judge the world.
T. M. Moore
Forward today’s ReVision to a friend and encourage your friend to subscribe. To gain a better perspective on “the smallest matters” we are called to judge, download the free 3-part ReVision study, Small Stuff, which is available by clicking here.
This week’s study is part 4 of 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. In the tag for part 7, we’ll give you a link to download part 3, Righteous Judgment.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.