Dear church,

In our culture, judgment is considered a bad thing. We are told it is not good to be judgmental of other people. No one is to judge another. Part of the problem is it makes people feel bad to be judged. There is something threatening about someone else peering into our lives and rendering a verdict.

Of course, the assumption is the judgment of another will be negative. When we sense others judging us, we assume they are seeing us in a poor light. It is assumed to be an unfavorable judgment.

We don’t want to feel bad about our lifestyle choices, and we don’t want to be seen in an unfavorable light by others. A lot of this distaste for being judged by others has to do with our feelings. We want to feel good about ourselves.

Of course, sometimes we are judged favorably by others. They are happy with us. And we are OK with that. It is the negative judgment that bothers us.

And all of this kind of judging is external to us. There also is an internal judging – where we issue decrees about ourselves. Our consciences can carry this out quite well, making us feel unworthy or inadequate. Some of us are good at judging ourselves.

So that’s enough to say that judgment in our culture is considered to be a bad thing – at least the negative kind, real or assumed, that makes us feel badly about ourselves.

Paul was not concerned with any human judgment, either from other people or himself. “It is a very small thing,” he said. It is a very small thing to be judged by people, even by the people of the Corinthian church where Paul spent 18 months ministering.

We don’t often consider it a very small thing when we are judged negatively by our close friends.

Paul went on to say he doesn’t even judge himself. He had a clear conscience, he said. “For I am not aware of anything against myself.” But even that didn’t matter. He still wasn’t going to give himself the all-clear. He wasn’t yet acquitted because his conscience was clear.

Paul was a man who pushed aside any judgment the world thrust upon him. And he was a man who ignored his own feelings about himself. There was only one Judge for Paul.

A day would come when a judgment upon Paul and his work would be rendered. The Lord would come. And when Jesus comes, the dark spots in our lives will be brought to light and the hidden purpose of our hearts will be laid bare.

There’s only one Judge.

It is easy in life to get consumed with what others think of us. It is easy to stress over perceptions. And it is easy to drown ourselves in self-condemnation. We gravitate toward judgment in one way or another. And Paul would say all of it is premature – whether we are down on ourselves or full of pride in our good deeds.

Paul makes it clear: Judgment Day will come. But he also implies our task now is simply to live out our lives as servants of the Lord and to leave the judging to Him. Jesus is the only one we seek to please.

And that is the rub, isn’t it? When we submit to the judgments of others, they become lords in our lives. But we are Christians. We only have one Lord.

We keep our eyes fixed on him.


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