3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God. (1 Corinthians 4:3-5).
Oh Paul has a way with words! I remember the first couple times I heard preachers and teachers behind the pulpit expound on this scripture. Everyone would be on their feet clapping and shouting, giving side-eye glances to their best friends or worse enemies. The congregation would be filled with high-fives, scrunched up lips, and shouts of “I Know THAT’s RIGHT! Don’t you judge me!” I used to laugh inside, watching my saved-folks get excited about a verse that appeared (on the surface) to shut up their haters (who were probably sitting in the pew right behind them). But while church can sometimes be amusing and theatrical, I was not laughing at the jolly and jirration I was witnessing. No. I was laughing because I felt like so many missed the part where Paul said “I do not even judge myself.” For me, it was almost as if he were saying “I am not even my OWN best standard or example.”
Wow…that sucks! Because whether we admit it or not, there is usually that one thing we think we know or do better than most around us. And we ALL suffer from “glorified” judgment. We even caveat our statements with “I’m not judging you BUT…” and then follow-up with judgment lol (or maybe that’s just me). I am not confusing this with counsel, advice or even Godly accountability–which we all need, and to an extent can only get from other flawed human beings. But advice loaded with judgment is erroneous because now we have assumed a role that was never a part of our DNA. Yes, it can be hard to swallow, but when we judge others (even when we condemn ourselves), we are trying to play God.
I struggle daily with trying to remove sayings like “Well, that’s just me,” from my vocabulary, or refraining from critiquing how another person handles a dispute, conflict or dilemma. In short, I don’t know all the answers…and even if i I did know the answer, that does not necessarily mean that the approach I used to get to the answer was the best! I think Paul was really trying to re-emphasize the importance of removing ALL-selves, especially OUR-selves, from judgment. Our standard is Jesus Christ–alone! We must push to remove the natural lenses in all situations and look at how God would tackle a problem.
In short, judgment is not our business. What IS our business is trying to do all things in accordance with the examples of the greatest Model–Jesus. God did give us discernment to make right decisions, to guide our paths, and to assess our surroundings. He said if we ask for wisdom, He would give it to us generously–holding nothing back! (James 1:5). He did not, however, give us the power to read people’s thoughts and glean their hearts. The more in-line our actions, thoughts, and deeds fall in-line with not only the Word of God, but His image, likeness and character, the more confident we can be that we are that much closer to following the Standard the rises above all others.