There may be some profound truth on the ink stained stomach of the street grown poet who believes that “Only God Can Judge Me.” But he would be wrong. People can will judge you quite freely.
Today’s culture often attempts to make a movie out of a moment; a feature film from a snapshot. The evolution of the theatrical and the propulsion of instant information has caused many to create plot without the script. We judge motives even when actions speak otherwise. It’s not that we intend to. It’s part of our sinful nature. It’s lodged in our desire to be right, no matter how often someone may disagree (it’s the very act of disagreement that supports my point). We desire to know. I’m as guilty as anyone else. Knowledge is seductive in this way. We don’t walk around screaming, “I told you so!”, but we sure think it far too often. It makes us feel superior, it boosts our confidence, it adds some level of faux value to our fragile ego.
Unfortunately this also causes us to jump to conclusions before all evidence has been gathered (or, at times, in lieu of any evidence at all). It causes us to be dysfunctionally proactive, which many would prefer over being lethargically reactive. But proactive is not without it’s flaws. There are literally dozens of scriptures that speak to flawed judgment, and Jesus was not immune.
Plenty surrounded Him with enormous expectations that would largely be left unfulfilled (Matthew 11:2-6). Unfulfilled expectations cause us to begin filling in the script with our own perspective. When we lack the credibility to properly write the story we allow culture (or the media) to write it for us, all the while avoiding the Word of God that has already offered the guidelines for a wholesome tomorrow. Jesus was accused and sentenced to die even though His actions spoke of redemption not revolt.
Why should we refrain from judging another person? Because an errant judgment will also be our reward. We will receive what we sow and it won’t be our highlight reel that others will admire. It will be every misspoken word, every hateful thought, every nasty action bent on feeding our superiority that will be brought into the glaring light of public opinion.
Only God can see your journey from birth to death. Every thought is laid bare before Him and Him alone (Hebrews 4:13) and somehow He loves us still. This is why He commands us to refrain from casting judgment on others. Would you want someone to take a snapshot of your lowest moment in life and ascribe it to be your permanent identity? But this is what we do, and even the dead are not immune to our judgment. An unjust killing occurs and we look to justify their death, discredit their lifestyle, or demonize their families. We raise our pitchforks beholding someone to blame and we trounce right by the adversary who has blanketed himself with the disguise of disillusionment.
There is a certain surrender needed to refrain from judgment. How would you achieve such surrender, you ask? By loving in disproportionate measure to the actions observed and in the most inconvenient of moments. In our desire to be right we tend to overlook the value of the life. Our “rightness” to have sex outside of marriage leads to over a million abortions yearly (85% by unmarried). We speak of rights, but what we really desire is to be right in our wrongness.
I don’t know about you, I find it is exhausting to try to perform the role of God, or act as His administrator. Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn the world (John 3:17), but we certainly try to make up for His lack! Judgment may be one of the hardest things to be rid of, but the removal of judgment leaves an open door for overwhelming love and grace and firmly establishes God as Lord of all, not just some. I think I’ll just stick to examining me and trying to be the best I can be for His glory. After all, it’s only His judgment that matters.
As I think about it, maybe that tattoo should read, “Only God Can Love Me”.