A prosecuting attorney called his first witness, a grandmotherly, elderly woman, to the stand. He approached her and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know me?” She responded, “Why, yes, I do know you Mr. Williams. I’ve known you since you were a young boy. And frankly, you’ve been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you’re a rising big shot when you haven’t the brains to realize you never will amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you.” The lawyer was stunned. Not knowing what else to do he pointed across the room and asked, “Mrs. Williams, do you know the defense attorney?” She again replied, “Why, yes I do. I’ve known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. I used to baby-sit him for his parents. And he, too, has been a real disappointment to me. He’s lazy, bigoted, he has a drinking problem. The man can’t build a normal relationship with anyone and his law practice is one of the shoddiest in the entire state. Yes, I know him.” At this point, the judge rapped the courtroom to silence and called both counselors to the bench. In a very quiet voice, he said with menace, “If either of you asks her if she knows me, you’ll be jailed for contempt!”
Today, we continue our current sermon series- The Psizzlin’ Psummer Psalm Psermon Pseries- taking a good, hard look at the Old Testament Book of Psalms. This book is a collection of religious poems set to music. And in these 150 Psalms, every human emotion, every circumstance of daily life are captured. This 11-week series is carrying us through the rest of the summer…AND through the trials and tribulations, the highs and lows of life. Today we take a look at who actually gets to sit in: The Judgment Seat
Genesis 3:8-10 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
Dictionary.com says this about the word judgment: “making critical distinctions and achieving a balanced viewpoint, the formal decision of one or more judges, a particular decision or opinion formed “ It also says, “to assume the position of critic”. Theologian Henri Nouwen said, “As long as we continue to live as if we are what we do, what we have, and what other people think about us, we will remain filled with judgment and condemnation. We will remain addicted to putting people and things in their ‘right’ place.” Judging others is like reading one page of a book and being confident that you know the whole story, from beginning to end. And the truth is that we spend so much time and effort judging what other people do that we often fail to do very much on our own. Let’s look at Psalm 75:
Psalm 75 We praise You, God, we praise You, for Your name is near; people tell of Your wonderful deeds You say, ‘I choose the appointed time; it is I who judge with equity. When the earth and all its people quake, it is I who hold its pillars firm. To the arrogant I say,’ Boast no more, ‘ and to the wicked,’ Do not lift up your horns. Do not lift your horns against heaven; do not speak with outstretched neck. ” No one from the east or the west
or from the desert can exalt themselves. It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another. In the hand of the LORD is a cup full of foaming wine mixed with spices;
He pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth drink it down to its very dregs. As for me, I will declare this forever; I will sing praise to the God of Jacob, Who says, ‘I will cut off the horns of all the wicked, but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up.’
A New Yorker was forced to take a day off from work to appear for a minor traffic summons. He grew increasingly restless as he waited hour after endless hour for his case to be heard. When his name was called late in the afternoon, he stood before the judge, only to hear that court would be adjourned for the rest of the afternoon and he would have to return the next day. “What for?!” he snapped at the judge. The judge, equally irked by the tedious day AND the rather sharp question, roared back: “$100 for contempt of court! That’s why!” Then, seeing that the man was checking his wallet, the judge softened a bit: “That’s OK. You don’t have to pay right now.” The young man replied, “I know. I’m just seeing if I have enough money for a few more words.”
Psalm 75 tells us that God does good things for His people. It also tells us that He is the One…the ONLY One…who sits in the seat of judgment. Many of the notes for this Psalm attribute its writing to a guy named Asaph. The twelve psalms attributed to Asaph are generally identified as Psalm 49 and Psalms 72-82. But some of those are labeled “of Asaph”, some “for Asaph” and still others “a testimony to Asaph”. Therefore, Biblical scholars don’t fully agree on what exactly that means. It could mean that these psalms were part of a larger collection from the Asaphites- the temple singers. It could mean that these psalms were sung in the style of Asaph. It could mean that Asaph himself wrote them. Or it could mean that he transcribed these psalms from a speech David might have given. Let’s walk through Psalm 75:
Verse 1- We praise You, God, we praise You, for Your name is near; people tell of Your wonderful deeds.
Verse 1 tells us that the collective body…US…are those who praise God. David uses the Jewish phrase, “Your name is near”. To the Hebrews, God’s name represented His very essence. To them, if God’s name was near…GOD was near! And because of His greatness AND his nearness, the people tell of His wonderful deeds.
Verse 2- You say, ‘I choose the appointed time; it is I who judge with equity.
Verse 2 shows a shift in emphasis- in Verse 1, it is the people who are talking, while verses 2-5 shift to God talking. This verse cuts right to the chase- it is God…ONLY God…Who will sit in the judgment seat. And He’s not only going to sit there, but He’ll also be fair in His judgment. It also points out that God will be the One to not only choose the where and the how- He’ll choose the when, as well. “I choose the appointed time.” We want SO badly to have things happen in our time. But I’ve learned that as soon as I confess and submit myself to the realization that everything is in God’s time and NOT mine…things seem to start falling into place!
Verse 3- When the earth and all its people quake, it is I who hold its pillars firm.
Verse 3 talks about earthquakes- the ground acting as if it is nothing more than shifting sands. And when the ground is shifting sand, buildings and trees fall over, holes open up and the people are afraid. When we’re not walking in God’s will, when we’re moving counter to His right judgment, we feel like we’re in an earthquake- the ground beneath us is no longer solid but nearly fluid. God says that, in the midst of those shifting sands, it is Him…and ONLY Him…Who can make the ground solid again. He can hold its pillars firm.
Verses 4 &5- To the arrogant I say,’ Boast no more, ‘ and to the wicked,’ Do not lift up your horns. Do not lift your horns against heaven; do not speak with outstretched neck. ”
Verses 4 and 5 talk about, of all things- horns. Animals that have horns have them for a reason. They’re for defense. They’re for offense. They’re used as weapons. Horns tend to make an animal stronger, more powerful. But in this setting, it is PEOPLE who have horns. And those with horns are the ones who don’t live in God’s will. Then God encourages us to NOT lift our defenses to heaven, to NOT stretch our necks out…as if we were full of ourselves…when we speak to Him. Instead, we’re called to bow our heads in reverence and awe when we come before Him.
Verse 6- No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt themselves.
Verse 6 tells us that nobody is more important than God…nobody. No one is qualified to judge but God, no matter from what direction they come. We are not to exalt ourselves, because only God should be exalted.
Verse 7- It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.
Verse 7 tells us that God brings one person down while He exalts another. For my money, what David is saying is that God points out that one person is out of His will while another is IN His will. WE are the ones who put ourselves down by the choices that we make…and don’t make.
Verse 8- In the hand of the Lord is a cup full of foaming wine mixed with spices; He pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth drink it down to its very dregs.
Verse 8 looks at a very common thing in the Ancient Near Eastern world- a cup of wine. Wine was an everyday part of life in that time and place. But THIS wine is not just “normal” wine- it has spices in it. The spices make it taste different- they make it less than pure. The wine here represents punishment…the consequences of our actions and our choices. The fact that the wicked will drink it down to its very dregs- or as those great theologians over at Maxwell House would say, “To the last drop”- means they will received ALL of the consequences of their actions. They will stubbornly cling to their wicked ways and ride them all the way to the ground.
Verses 9 & 10- As for me, I will declare this forever; I will sing praise to the God of Jacob, Who says, ‘I will cut off the horns of all the wicked, but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up.’
In verse 9, we switch “persons” again- the Psalmist is talking only for himself. Ultimately, we are the ONLY ones we CAN speak for. He recommits to the fact that he will sing God’s praises. Verse 10 quotes God, Who says, “I will cut off the horns of all the wicked”, referring back to the horns mentioned in Verses 4 & 5. This means that God will take away their strength and their power. They will be like animals that have lost their horns. But the righteous will be lifted up, strengthened, blessed.
Writer Dave Barry said, “There’s nothing wrong with enjoying looking at the surface of the ocean itself, except that when you finally see what goes on underwater, you realize that you’ve been missing the whole point of the ocean. Staying on the surface all the time is like going to the circus and staring at the outside of the tent.” When we judge each other by outward appearance, we are only looking at the surface of the ocean.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “Love the sinner, hate, the sin.” But in my way of thinking, it seems backward and decidedly un-Christian to approach life with that attitude. The phrase may have come from the Latin phrase, “Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum”, a quote from St. Augustine which means, “With love for mankind and hatred for sin.” But the main problem with “Love the sinner; hate the sin” is that hate comes so much easier to us than love. If we intentionally try and love one thing while hating another, human nature will naturally push us toward the hating to the neglect of the loving. And once we START hating sin, we find it is so much easier to hate OTHER people’s sin than our own. And that not only makes us just as sinful as those we judge…it also makes us more hypocritical.
I don’t know about you, but I just don’t have enough time for hate. Life’s short. I think we need to simply love the sinner…period. We need to love the sinner and…let God worry about the rest. The great…yet humble…Rev. Billy Graham said, “It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love.” Our job is NOT to judge. Our job isn’t to figure out if someone is deserving of something or not. Our job is to pick up the fallen, restore the broken, and heal the hurting…love the sinner.
We foolishly think we can know a person’s character after just a few minutes of observation. But we can’t. We have no idea what their life is like, what they’re going through. Do you know ONE person…ONE…who came to know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior because someone bullied them, shamed them or judged them into it? No, of course you don’t. BECAUSE THERE AREN’T ANY! I don’t know about you, but the ONLY way I made it here at all was through the love, patience and support of Christian brothers and sisters who stood beside me and supported me when I was sinking deep in sin. They didn’t judge me…they loved me. When you find yourself judging someone else, stop and ask yourself one simple question: “Do the reasons I am judging them say more about THEM…or ME? And then decide whether or not you’re OK with judging being that which defines you as a human being. We can always find somebody worse than we are to make us feel better about ourselves- “Those awful people- they need to repent!” But to be honest, that’s a cheap shot. Yes, they DO need to repent…but so do we! If you’re breathing, repentance is essential!
Romans 2:1-4 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
A lady in a faded gingham dress and her husband, dressed in a homespun threadbare suit, walked timidly and without an appointment into the University President’s outer office. The secretary could tell in a moment that such backwoods, country hicks had no business there. “We’d like to see the president,” the man said softly. “He’ll be busy all day,” the secretary snapped. “We’ll wait,” the lady replied. For hours the secretary ignored them, hoping that the couple would finally become discouraged and go away. They didn’t, and the secretary grew frustrated and finally decided to disturb the president, even though it was a chore she always regretted. “Maybe if you see them for a few minutes, they’ll leave,” she said to him. He sighed in exasperation and nodded. Someone of his importance obviously didn’t have the time to spend with them, and he detested gingham dresses and homespun suits cluttering up his outer office.
The president, stern-faced and with dignity, strutted toward the couple. The lady told him, “We had a son who attended here for one year. He loved it here. He was happy here. But about a year ago, he was accidentally killed. My husband and I would like to erect a memorial to him, somewhere on campus.” The president wasn’t touched. He was shocked. “Madam, we can’t put up a statue for every person who attended this university and then died. If we did, this place would look like a cemetery.” “Oh, no,” the lady explained quickly. “We don’t want to erect a statue. We’d like to give a building.” The president rolled his eyes. “A building! Do you have any idea how much a building costs? We have over 20 million dollars in physical buildings on this campus.” For a moment the lady was silent. The president was pleased. Maybe he could get rid of them now. The lady turned to her husband and said quietly, “Is that all it costs to start a university? Why don’t we just start our own?” The president’s face wilted. Her husband nodded and the couple got up and walked away. You can easily tell the character of others by how they treat those who they think can do nothing for them.
How would your life be different if you simply stopped judging others? Let today be that day! Look for the good in everybody you meet. Have respect for their journey. We are called to love, not judge.
Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
Tomorrow- Photoshopped Faith