But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. (1 Cor. 4:3-5)
We too often make a practice of pronouncing judgment before the time comes. We take evidence and testimonies and declare the verdict. The two most common judgments we make, I believe, are 1.) I should be angry, and 2.) I should be fearful and worried. These both are related to being offended by our Lord and Hs Word and ways. Before you begin to consider your heart and hear again that God will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart, consider John the Baptist and his disciples, as they weigh the evidence about and testimony of Jesus and attempt to make a judgment.
The evidence and testimony: John knew he was called to prepare the way of the Lord through a baptism of repentance. He baptized Jesus and behold the heavens were opened to Him and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and came to rest on Jesus and a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Jesus is healing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing the lepers, etc.
If that and such things like that were the only evidence, the judgment would be rather simple: Jesus is the One who is to come; we should not look for another.
If it were only that simple. There’s seemingly more evidence, though. John preached faithfully about Jesus and the kingdom of God. This lands John in prison: seemingly alone and forsaken. John’s life will be taken from him by Herod after being seduced by a dancer and telling her she can have anything she wants. “The head of John the Baptist,” was her mother’s requests. Jesus is powerful. Jesus is good. Yet, John is in prison and will be martyred. Herod seems to be winning and seems to win. The Kingdom of God and Jesus seem to be weak.
What’s the verdict? “Are you the One who is to come or shall we look for another?”
How about the evidence and testimony for you? Should you look for another? Jesus has been good to you. He has calmed your troubled heart – Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. You have known the Lord’s kindness in the forgiveness of your sins – iniquity pardoned. He has given you food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land and animals and all you. He daily and richly provides you with all that you need to support this body and life. You do believe in Him and that has been a source of strength in the midst of much trouble.
If that and such things like that were the only evidence, the judgment would be rather simple: Jesus is the One who is to come; you should not look for another.
If it were only that simple. You have much trouble in your life. God is in you, you are baptized and die daily to sin – yet, your heart is still so seduced to Satan’s temptation. You still are seduced to anger, lust, and worry. He does provide for you, but that’s a statement of promise that you sometimes don’t believe. Christianity is true, but seems like it’s losing in this world and perhaps among your family and friends. You pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, and quite often those judgments are, 1.) I should be angry, 2.) I should be fearful and worried.
The dead are raised, says Jesus, but your dead still seem rather dead. “God’s Word is powerful,” Jesus says, but false preachers abound and have large crowds gathering about them. The gates of Hell shall not prevail over the Church, says Jesus, but the Church struggles with the things that can be counted: members, dollars, and buildings that aren’t falling apart. Do Jesus and the Kingdom of God seem to be winning to you or does it seem to you that Jesus and His kingdom seem rather weak?
Is He the One to come or should I be preaching another One like many other preachers are? Is the He the One to come or should you be hearing from another and their Word? Is He the One to come or should you be praying to, and banking everything in life and death one someone or something else?
What’s the verdict? You’re the judge. What do you declare with the testimony and evidence?
It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.
The Lord is judge. It is that simple. And Jesus pronounces a blessing for the one who is not offended by Him and His Word and His ways.
Pastors are called to be stewards of the mysteries of God and stewards are called to be found faithful. That God became flesh to dwell among us is a mystery. That God is strong and powerful and good, but evil and rejection of Him seem to have a strong grip is a mystery. That you sin, especially perhaps today that you consider your sin of judging before the time comes –your sin and God’s wrath against your sin has been swallowed up as Jesus was judged for you under judge Pilate and His Father. It is also a mystery that He has granted you faith and continues to strengthen in that faith to not be offended by Him when you are tempted to judge that He is not good, or powerful, or just, or merciful.
There are times, especially the complex times when things don’t seem very simple, that Jesus sends you His simple Word. He’s the Judge, your Judge, and He judges you clean and holy for the sake of His blood. He is giving you lots of evidence and testimonies to assure you of His love and mercy for you. He’s the Judge, so as you look around, don’t pronounce judgment before the Lord comes.
Be faithful to His Word – not sinless, for you need and have a Savior – but be faithful. For each one will receive His commendation from God.