Judge, Law, and Lawgiver

“Judge, Law, and Lawgiver.”
--from November 12th  --
This week’s devotions written by Pat and Liz Neuschwanger

Day 1

Read James 4:11-12
Devotion theme:  We need a constant reminder that there is only 1 Judge (God)
If we’re honest and critical of ourselves, I’ll bet we would admit that we choose to judge people many times each day, don’t we? 
  • “Look at the tire on that truck!  What a waste of money!”
  • “Why are those parents letting their toddler run all over the place?!”
  • “Why does that manager feel like he always has to have the last word?!  He probably needs to recognize when enough has been said!”
Let’s bring the Sermon Sentence from Sunday’s sermon back into focus for a few minutes… 
Sermon Sentence: “The real danger in what we say about someone is wrapped up in what we truly intended by our words.”  If the phrases above sound “typical”, that might be a glimpse into our human nature and how quickly we fall into judgment…  Are we intending to cut people down when we say these things?  In self-reflection, I have thoughts (and sometimes conversations) like this often.  Does this strike a chord with anyone?  James 4:11-12 reminds us that there is only one Judge.  And none of us are Him.
Would you commit to spending some time reviewing James 4:11-12 and considering places in your life where you judge?  We’ll get to some areas/situations where God gives guidance on this, but that will be later in the week…
Make it your prayer to open your heart to God and ask Him for wisdom in how we think of and act toward others.  Are we being “Christ-like” as we live our lives?

Day 2

Read James 4:12, Isaiah 2:12-22, Nahum 1:2-6
Devotion theme:  A biblical perspective on judgment and judging others
To put it plainly, I find it difficult to keep God’s majesty, glory, and overwhelming power in perspective.  As a function of my human nature, the less I’m able to keep this in perspective, the larger I become (again, in my own mind, not reality…), and the smaller God becomes.  This is a dangerous path to go down.  In fact, as many sermons have reminded us, and many Small Group discussions have explored, we need to take action (ourselves) to continually grow in God’s Word and get His help in avoiding that path.

 As an aside, there is a theme here…  The “action” we need to take is to make an individual and personal choice to prioritize daily time in God’s Word.  As we do this, His Word will illustrate more and more deeply His majesty and power.  In learning that, we’ll be reminded of God’s true nature and how utterly miniscule we are compared to Him.  But we’ll also be refreshed in our understanding of how deep and powerful His love for us is.

These passages of scripture are powerful and descriptive illustrations showing us that there is only One in the universe “…who gave the law” (James 4:12) and is the Judge.
Do these scriptures change your perspective of God and the severity of His judgment?
What will you take away from this and apply to your life as a result of a more thorough review of these scriptures?

Day 3

Read Matthew 7:1-5, 1 Corinthians 4:1-7
Devotion theme:  Have you considered the log in your own eye?
Yesterday we looked at God’s Word to better understand the Bible’s perspective on judgment, and specifically, why God is the only One who can judge.  Today, we’ll look a bit further into the guidance that the Bible presents from several different, but complimentary sources (Matthew and Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians).
Humility is a biblical quality.  There are multiple places where the Bible makes reference to this (Prov 11:2, 15:33, 22:4, Col 3:12, James 3:13, 1 Peter 5:5).  In this vein, my study bible (New Living Translation Life Application Study Bible) puts forth a very pointed question and suggestions in the notes for this scripture (Matthew 7:1,2, pg 1552):
“Do you find it easy to magnify others’ faults while excusing your own?  If you are ready to criticize someone, check to see if you deserve the same criticism.  Judge yourself first, and then lovingly forgive and help your neighbor.”
This is good guidance to “turn the mirror inward” before casting any judgment.
Can you identify examples, practices or areas in your life where “self-scrutiny” should be exercised?  Would you consider capturing these in a journal for reflection and review later?
What action(s) would you take today and in the following days as a result of reviewing this scripture?

Day 4

Read Galatians 6:1, John 3:16-21
Devotion theme:  What is the true motive for what was said?
It’s easy to cave into temptation, isn’t it?  When coworkers are openly criticizing another member of the company or the team, it’s easy to join them, isn’t it?  But as James describes it, if we “criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law” (James 4:11).  That’s certainly NOT a place we want to find ourselves.
But maybe as, or more importantly, as Christians brothers and sisters, we are empowered by God and His Holy Spirit to positively affect the lives of others.  As John 3:21 says, “But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”
What opportunities with friends or family exist in your life where you might be able to “humbly help that person back onto the right path.” (Galatians 6:1)?
Is there an opportunity in a specific area of your life where you can examine your motives?  Or might you be able to enable a Chirstian brother or sister to speak accountability into your life?   (More on that tomorrow…😊)

Day 5

Read James 4:11, Read Matthew 7:1-5, Galatians 6:1,
Devotion theme:  Reminder:  We are in charge of our words and our attitudes.
Once again, let’s look back at the Sermon Sentence from Sunday’s sermon: 
“The real danger in what we say about someone is wrapped up in what we truly intended by our words.” 
With these scriptures and the sermon sentence in mind, let’s give some thought to what specific actions or takeaways we (individually) might capture for ourselves.
  • Judge ourselves first – before casting any kind of comment or judgment on othersl

    • Where can this idea be applicable in your life?
    • Consider capturing in a journal entry…
  • Avoid criticism and instead, find ways to build others up
  • How has your understanding of God’s sovereignty and the severity of His judgment changed this week?

    • Again, a good opportunity for a journal entry
  • Is there a friend or family member that you can “gently and humbly help…back onto the right path”? (Galatians 6:1)

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