By REV. DR. BRIAN GEE
“ON JUDGING OTHERS”
“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and the people loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.” -John 3:19
There is something in the word, ‘judgement,’ that is both clarifying and yet divisive. No one likes being judged but most of us are quick to pass judgment on a person we do not agree with or on a moment that we do not like. We have names for them. Scoundrel. Loser. Forgettable. Mean-spirited. We identify the day with shadowy and overcast terms like… Darkest hour. Maddening. All-time low. End-of-the-line. Doomsday. Judgement comes and judgement goes and still it’s an edgy word and where I come from it is mostly misunderstood… and the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsberg has caused me to step back and give this two-syllable word a second look. Faith matters and in matters of faith… everyone believes in something…
The Old Testament has an entire book dedicated to the judges. There were 12 of them and they existed to lead the nation… picked by God to take care of his people when they were in trouble. They acted like military leaders guiding the people into their own best interests. The book of Psalms has many references to judges and judgement. One of my favorites is…
“Let all creation rejoice before the LORD, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness.” (Psalm 96:13).
This was a good thing! Good as in making things right. Even Lyle Lovett took a crack at its understanding in his CD… “Joshua Judges Ruth” with songs like “She’s Leaving Me,” and “You’ve Been So Good Up To Now”… all pronouncements of relationships gone south with plenty of finger pointing! But the judges of the Bible… that group of leaders who came after Joshua and before God raised up Israelite kings… existed to point out the good and seek to unveil what was truth. Obviously, this kind of leadership intended peace and safety for all.
But, in the Bible, as in life there were plenty of references to judges who were ambitious, corrupt, selfish, and evil. Power was more important than justice or the truth. It’s not new or has it disappeared. The D’Medici family of Florence was known to live by the motto… “It is sometimes necessary to do some bad in order to achieve a much greater good.” Some see that as acceptable while others point out its intent to manipulate… a judgement in and of itself, eh?
My grandma Irene used to say… “when you point your finger at someone… remember there are three more pointing back at you!” It’s kind of like in St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians… the oldest piece of New Testament literature we know… when he wrote… “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. Whatever one reaps comes from what has been sown.” (Galatians 6:7) … a clear understanding that no one can fool God by doing one thing and then try to justify that action with a set of contrary words. Sow. Reap.
And so, my understanding of judgement has a much more positive bend for our culture these days. While people are being asked to not be so judgmental, I’d like to point out that the sole purpose of judgement is to reveal what is true. It takes an effort and that’s indeed what judges do… judges like Ruth Bader-Ginsberg and the ones we elect. I’m not judgmental saying someone stole a car… if indeed that person stole that car. It’s just the truth. So, live in this judgement of Christ… God loves you. Always.
Rev. Dr. Brian K. Gigee is a long-time resident of Pearland, having pastored four churches in Texas and Louisiana over the last four decades. You can follow his blog ‘murmurings’ at https://briangigee.wordpress.com/. Send comments and questions to [email protected].