God is our Judge. He loves His people, but make no mistake, He will pass judgment on all. Ecclesiastes 12:14 tells us that "For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil." In fact, in reading through the Old Testament, we frequently see evidence of God's judgment. It is only through Jesus' sacrifice that we are washed of our sins. So God the father is a righteous judge, but what about Jesus?
Considering that the Father and the Son are one, Jesus clearly has a role in judgment, which is evident in Revelation. During His earthly ministry, though, He stated that His role was not to judge, but to save. John 12:47-48 "If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day." With that said, He did not encourage people to sin freely. Consider the woman at the well. After all of her accusers left, "Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, 'Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more'" (John 8:10-11). He acts with incredible mercy, but does not let her off the hook to continue in a sinful lifestyle.
But what about us? Admittedly, that whole plank-eye thing is pretty convicting, yet we are also called to sharpen, confront, even rebuke, one another (e.g., Proverbs 27:17, James 5:16, Titus 1:13). Jesus instructed His followers "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment" (John 7:24). So we are called to "judge", but how do we do that? I think Jared Wilson provides two worthwhile recommendations (p. 134):
- We're responsible for our brothers in Christ, to bring discipline and conviction to each other in the hopes of making the body of Christ holy as God is holy.
- We have no business judging people who are not Christians.
(I liberally consulted the chapter "Jesus the Judge" from Jared Wilson's Your Jesus is Too Safe in writing this post. I would highly commend the book).