By Irven Lee
“He hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and lie shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left” (Matt. 25:31-33). “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Cor. 5: 10).
These verses on the judgment are familiar to Bible students. We need to know that we do not make the final decisions (see 1 Cor. 4:3-5). We are to be doers of the law and not set ourselves up as if we were infallible judges, “Everyone of us shall give account of himself to God.” “Why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at naught thy brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (read Rom. 14:1-13). Are some too willing to announce before the time what the destiny of those who may not follow some scruple will be? The dogmatic announcer may have something in his eye. He may be able to see the other man’s eye better than he can see his own.
We are to contend for the faith and warn against soul destroying sins (read 1 Cor. 6:9,10; Gal. 5:19-21; Col. 3:5,6). The Judge has spoken on these matters, and we are free to quote Him. We may also quote what He has said about preaching some other gospel (Gal. 1:6-10). It is not a sin to use great plainness of speech as we reprove and rebuke (2 Tim. 4:1-5; Tit. 1:13; 2:15). Man is to use righteous judgment in discerning the difference in good and evil (Jn. 7:24; Heb. 5:12-14). Man is going too far when he becomes too reckless in announcing the eternal destiny of each individual that passes by. There may be too frequent use of the expression: “You are going to hell, ” or ” I f you do not, you are going to hell.” Are we sure in each case? Do others not know that we do not sit on the throne? We might warn more effectively if we would stick more closely to our teaching job and leave the decision making to the Master.
On the other hand, some seem only to know the first two words in Matthew 7:1 – judge not. These people overlook the context and the teaching of the Lord. We should all desire to be so well taught and of such disposition that we may be “perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10). We are expected to have skill in the proper type of judging (1 Cor. 6:2-5). Righteous men have ability to evaluate the evidence in many matters and make wise decisions.
We do not know the secrets of all hearts, and we do not have a full comprehension of the mind of God, so we need to restrain ourselves in separating the flock into two groups and preparing a list for the Lord. He may not accept all our decisions. The church is in much distress now over many questions that are being discussed with more heat than light. Knowledge that “puffeth up” may be more common than love that edifies or is upbuilding. It may be hard to distinguish between the judging that is very necessary and that which is forbidden. There is a big difference in the two types of judging, and we need to learn what is proper.
One is not necessarily in grievous error if he does not agree with me in some matter of expediency. We need to be aware of the consolation, comfort, fellowship and mercy to be found in the hearts of Christians. “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:3-5). This is not the mind of bitter men who so often shout at their brethren: “You are going to hell.” Let us have more love in our hearts for our brethren and let us not judge them too harshly.
Guardian of Truth XXXI: 2, p. 46
January 15, 1987