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.
- 1 Corinthians 4:3-4
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
- Phil 3:12-14
If you’re like most humans (or at least like me), odds are that you spend the better part of the day evaluating how well you’re doing at following, riding on a constant stream of judgments. You hit snooze one too many times and kick yourself for being lazy. As you get ready for the day you evaluate and judge your appearance, always finding it lacking. When you spill your coffee while heading out the door you inwardly call yourself an idiot for being in such a rush.
The ongoing procession of self-judgment doesn’t stop when you’re out in public. Feeling foolish for saying something awkward in conversation with a co-worker, beating yourself up for getting angry at your kids, shame when you do that thing you swore you’d never do again; the opportunities for self-judgment are endless in our failure-riddled lives.
But if you’re a follower of Jesus there’s a problem with allowing our minds to be constantly making judgment calls about ourselves. The Bible calls Satan the “accuser of the brethren” (Rev. 12:10). When we spend our time evaluating and passing judgments on ourselves we are partnering with Satan and cutting ourselves off from the joy of the Lord that is our strength.
Martin Luther discovered this in his endless hours of confession as he attempted to root out and confess every sin he had committed in thought or deed. The stock of sins he could identify was endless, and it wasn’t until God revealed to him the truth of the Gospel that he found freedom and hope. The truth of the Gospel was this; God’s judgment about Christ can be his judgment about us. By faith we can become the righteousness of God in Christ, freed from condemnation from without and within.
Paul knew this freedom well, so well that he could say in his letter to the Corinthian church, “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…It is the Lord who judges me.”
What beautiful freedom there is in the statement “I do not even judge myself”! This whole self-judgment thing is incredibly tiring and time consuming. Let’s learn from the Apostle and deny ourselves the right to pass judgment on ourselves and instead leave it to the Lord, the Judge of all, to determine.
And determine he has. For those who are in Christ his judgment has already been determined. As Paul writes in his second letter to the Corinthians, we are the righteousness of God in Christ because Christ has taken our sin on himself (2 Cor. 5:21).
We need to stop attempting to overwrite God’s judgment about us. “What God has put together, let no man separate.” If God has placed you together in the righteousness of his son Jesus and thereby made you righteous, stop claiming that you’re not. If he has created you and called you good, stop allowing yourself to think the opposite.
Instead, determine to have the same mindset that Paul writes of in Philippians 3. Commit to “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead…press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Forget your past. Forget what you did (or didn’t) do this morning or last night or last week. Quit your judging. Press forward towards the prize that God has called you to in Christ. Run to Jesus.
I believe it was John Piper who once made the statement, “faith turns a mirror into a window.” Let’s stop standing in front of mirrors evaluating and judging ourselves. Instead, let your faith transform that mirror into a window that gives you a view of the beauty of Jesus and stare at him instead. As you gaze on him, and with “unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, [you will be] transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory” (2 Cor 3:18). It’s by looking to Jesus and delighting in Him that we are changed, not by self-analysis and condemnation. Quit your judging.