Judgment has gotten a such bad rap. It is almost universally portrayed as a bad thing. Even Jesus’ words; “Judge not, lest you be judged,” are falsely used in an attempt to silence all judgment and to say that every attitude and behavior should be accepted.
However, judgment is not a bad thing. True judgment is a joyous thing. Now true judgment doesn’t come from people, because all human judgment is faulty. Even the best judges and juries make mistakes.
There is One however, whose judgment is accurate. And when we surrender to God’s judgment, the end effect is joy. To quote Paul of Tarsus: “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret.”
God’s judgment is like the railing around a high-rise balcony — it allows people to enjoy the outdoors, high above the city, without fear of falling to their death. If you take away the railing, fear paralyzes people and they can’t enjoy their balcony.
That’s the joy of judgment. God’s judgment sets boundaries that protect us from self-inflicted pain, misery, and destruction. Take away the railing of God’s judgment and people don’t function very well — they royally mess themselves up.
Need proof? Look around us at the mess and misery, the violence and evil of the 21st Century. Look in your own heart. Are you full of joy? Or are you an emotional mess?
So how do you experience the joy of God’s judgment, the “godly sorrow” that brings freedom from wrongful behaviors and attitudes? There are several things you can do to begin to enjoy the joy of judgment:
1) Ask God to show you where you are wrong. Here is how King David opened up to the joy of judgment. He prayed: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
2) Have the courage to listen to your conscience and then obey what it tells you. If you do, your conscience will pull you back from the edge of your balcony and let you safely enjoy your life. If not, I hope you survive your fall.
3) Stop rationalizing and justifying your wrongful behaviors. You can give many reasons to attempt to justify taking the railing off your balcony, but none of those reason will cushion your fall.
4) Be willing to hear a word against yourself and your behaviors. When someone criticizes or judges you, don’t dig in for defense. Instead, openly examine yourself and see if there is any truth in what they say.
5) Admit your wrongful thoughts and behaviors. Denial may be in style, but after a while, denial will cut you like a sharp file. Courageously confess your faults.
6) Ask someone to hold you accountable, to regularly check on you and see if you are overcoming the sins in your life — to encourage you and motivate you to overcome.
7) Don’t be a quitter. The joy of judgment is like training for the Olympics. It requires persistence and toughness. Anybody can wimp out and surrender to wrongful behaviors in her/his life. Only the bravest will overcome them.
8) There is a great book that contains much joy of judgment. When I read it my heart is exposed. It is a railing that helps keep me in line. It is the best book I’ve ever read and the best-selling book in world history — the Bible. Before you reject it or trivialize it into a coffee table book, read it for yourself. Start with the New Testament.
9) Find an environment where you can feel the presence of God — the woods, a beach, the mountains, under the stars, in a church building, etc; and spend quiet time there.
A few quotations:
“If an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!” –Paul of Tarsus (How joyous! This has actually happened many times at a gathering in Nashville were everybody present is allowed to prophesy — to openly share what God tells them to. Come and experience it for yourself: Thursday nights @ 6:30 & Sunday mornings @ 10:45; 225 Berry St., Nashville, 37207.)
“When we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.” –Paul of Tarsus
‘Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom.” –James, the brother of Jesus Christ
“We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.” –John F. Kennedy