November 18, 2019
"ALL RISE, this court is now in session,
the honorable Judge [fill in your name]
presiding." It would be fitting if God
ordered angels to announce this audibly
in our hearing every morning as we rise
to greet the day.
Contrary to what our Master taught us,
and the very spirit of His heart and
life, it seems we born-again Christians
feel qualified, voted in, gifted, or
perhaps even divinely called to be God's
Once saved by grace we proceed to
ungraciously judge - examine, criticize,
make recommendations, and condemn -
every other living, breathing soul on
planet earth. Except ourselves.
The witnesses in the courtroom of our
mind are at best of questionable
credibility, yet we accept their
testimony as fact daily, sometimes
hourly, and enter it into evidence. One
by one these speakers take the stand of
our heart: Outward Appearances; Snap
Judgments; Envious sniping;
Imaginations; Assumptions of the worst;
Hearsay; and Rumors. Oh, and one more,
the "accuser of our brethren"
(Revelation 12:10). Oddly, these
witnesses always seem to speak for the
prosecution, never the accused, who
seems to have no witnesses to speak for
himself (or herself) at all.
After mulling the evidence presented by
our dubious witnesses, we render our
decision: guilty! Down goes the gavel,
and we issue and promptly execute our
sentences against the guilty parties!
Some common sentences carried out by the
State of Our Pride are: avoidance; hard
looks; gossip; slander; disrespect;
mockery; ostracism from social events;
withdrawal of fellowship; or open
adversarial actions. Thus, the
individuals typically coming before the
court of our observation too often get
the wrong end of justice. And no mercy.
But, we tell ourselves, the evidence
proves they deserve it.
Jesus' justice, however, is quite
different: "Judge not according to the
appearance, but judge righteous [fair,
patient, thorough, merciful, the kind
you would want] judgment" (John 7:24).
Hmm, it seems this is one Bible text we
overlooked before entering our long and
undistinguished judicial career.
Nevertheless, our court remains in
session 24-7 passing callous judgments
on whomever we meet, including our
fellow Christians. Ministers, also,
receive our prosecution.
Yet Jesus seemed to think the only
subject falling properly within our
jurisdiction is the one we ignore:
ourself! Yes, there is a clear, simple
solution to this problem. But it demands
that we change.
That crucial reversal of viewpoint
begins when we re-read Matthew 7:1-5
slowly, thoughtfully, and prayerfully.
If we understand what our Lord is saying
- and it is too clear to misunderstand!
- we will promptly shut down our court.
And padlock its doors for safekeeping.
Or better, tear down our courthouse!
Then we can
build a new courthouse and courtroom in
which we can get down to the real
character-building work of examining
ourselves! Paul urged us to build this
courthouse: "Examine yourselves, whether
ye be in the faith; prove your own
selves" (2 Corinthians 13:5); or, "Look
closely at yourselves. Test yourselves
to see if you are living in the faith"
(NCV). He promised that whoever complies
will not be harshly judged at Christ's
Judgment Seat: "But let a man examine
himself...for if we would judge
ourselves, we should not be judged" (1
Corinthians 11:28, 31).
This new court of self-examination
should remain in session every waking
hour. We should keep our own spiritual
life, thoughts, words, acts, and
reactions under the
baldly-honest-yet-redemptive review of
our grace-enlightened, Scripture-guided,
This divinely authorized judicial review
should continue with the same constancy
as that of our former court. Every day.
Every circumstance. Taking captive every
thought to the obedience of Christ.
Quickly confessing our sins whenever
they occur. Freely receiving forgiveness
and restoration by Christ's blood (1
John 1:9). And humbly and quickly
turning back to our Chief Jurist's
straight and narrow way of life. How
long? Until He appears to take us home!
those other judicial subjects? We may
safely leave them to the Holy Spirit's
superbly fair, omniscient review.
this court is now adjourned."
Occupying my new court,