life happens: God the Judge…

God the Judge–When I Feel Anger, Resentment, and Jealousy

God the Judge.  It seems that we overlook this aspect of God.  As we breeze through Old Testament Prophets, and glaze over Jesus’ harsh words to the Pharisees, we miss out on the action part of God’s righteousness.

God is righteous.  We know this.  Yet, when we overlook Him as the Judge, we miss the power of our actions.  Yes, God is forgiving, merciful, and gracious.  And yes, He will forgive those who repent.  However, forgiveness does not always equate to relieving us of the consequences of our actions.  We will never know all the ways He works to protect us.  However, He is also the ultimate Judge.

Before beginning your work, list everything you think about “judging.”
Write out what you believe about mercy and grace.

Review what you have written.  Assuming your definitions are accurate, how might God bring them both together in righteousness?

God the Judge—of His enemies

We believe in an esoteric way that God judges His enemies.  But there is a part of Christianity that seems to breeze past this because of the uncomfortable reality that God does not always judge as we would like to see.  Anger, resentment, and jealousy are ultimately feelings rooted in being oppressed, offended, or hurt.

Believe it or not, anger itself does not seem to be a sin.

Read Ephesians 4:26 through Ephesians 5:2.  What does the scripture say about being angry?
What does this passage say about our actions in regards to anger?

What other actions are highlighted in this passage.

It seems that the feeling of anger is not a surprise to God, nor is it condemned by God.  However, there is a time limit between anger and sin.  Anger allowed to stew becomes resentment and bitterness.  These are the deathly sins that eat away at the soul, put barriers between us and God, and put barriers between you and the rest of the world.  Jealousy is yet another outcropping of anger.  Jealousy believes that someone else received something you believe should be yours.  In essence, it is an anger toward God for not providing that thing for you.  This, too, is dangerous for your soul.

In what areas of your life are you harboring long-term anger, resentment, bitterness, and/or jealousy?  Confess them now.  Bring them to Jesus and ask Him to show you His face, His hand in these things.  Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God—He will lift you up.  Confess those things now.

When you clear away the anger in your own heart, you can begin to see the righteousness by which God judges His enemies (note: His enemies, not yours).

Genesis 15:12-16.  These verses happen in the middle of the Abrahamic covenant.

What does God promise Abram regarding those that will afflict his descendants?

God judging His enemies is a comfortable idea for us.  Even more comfortable is the idea the God judges your enemies.  Interesting, isn’t it, how quickly we convince ourselves that our enemies are also God’s enemies.  Churches split because two people disagree and one or more have convinced themselves that if there is disagreement, then one side *must* be the enemy of God.

Read Joshua 5:13-15.  What stands out to you?

 

What question does Joshua ask?

 

And what is the Commander’s response?

You are much like Joshua.  As am I.  There is an assumption in Christianity that whatever I, personally, believe must be right.  And since you are right, then anyone else is against you.  And therefore, the angel of the Lord would be against them.

Ugly, isn’t it?  If you are stuck in a moment right now where you are thinking of everyone else who has this perspective, you need to stop.  Stop right now.  You have this perspective.  You are the one.  You have set yourself up to believe that you are the center of the beliefs.  And you need to deal with your own stuff.  Not “deal with your own stuff first”—there will be no next.  You deal with you.  Before you move one, also remember how God responds to those who repent.  What comes next is not an exercise in beating yourself.  It is an act of repentance.

Review your life, your enemies.  And confess.

What is God asking you to do right now?

Change your perspective.  It will revolutionize your life.

God the Judge—of His people

That title might be a hard pill to swallow.  We think that God does not judge His people.  He does (have you read the Old Testament?!?).  Because this concept can be difficult, first, explore what God does say.

Read Romans 8:1-3.  What stands out to you?

Romans tells us there is no condemnation.  Condemnation is different, however, than judgment.

Review verse 2.  What does it say about the two laws?

We tout that we are free from The Law under Christ.  That is only half-true.  We are free from the Mosaic Law.

However, review verse 2 again—by what law do we now abide?

 

How do you feel about knowing there is a law of the Spirit by which you are expected to abide?

The law of the Spirit.  What does the law of the Spirit look like?  Laws are set forth to bring a desired result.  In the United States, there are yellow lines in the middle of two-way roads, each pattern communicating a different thing.  These lines are there to remind us of traffic laws.  And the end result of traffic laws is to bring the desired result of safety on the road.

Read Galatians 5:22.  What are the desired results of living by the law of the Spirit?

 

Back up your reading a moment.  Read Galatians 5:13-21.  What stands out to you?

 

Review verses 19-21.  Look at your own life.  What similarities do you see?

Many years ago, I was part of a small group study studying Galatians.  In our conversation about this passage, the group of all women were evaluating their lives based on these verses.  Then, an interesting thing happened, the group went off on a tangent after reading “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery…”  Then came the tangent.  The discussion went toward men and how men struggle with most of those issues—short of sorcery.

Funny, how we stopped reading at the point where the words began to judge our behaviors.  Because isn’t it true, that in the gross generalities of life, women struggle far more with the second list?  Hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy.  If you are a man, you may find your struggles in the first half.  If you are a woman, you need to stop a moment.  We women are in a dangerous situation—society as a whole denounces much of the things with which men struggle.  So though they are inundated by the same things that society also condemns, they cannot escape the understanding of judgment around these issues.

However, and that is a very large HOWEVER, the things with which women most struggle tend to also be things that society has deemed lesser offenses.  After all, “we all” struggle with jealousy, “we all” struggle with moments where our temper gets out of control, “we all” struggle with selfishness.  And in couching everything in “we all”, women have been sheltered from the gross reality of the damage their struggles inflict.

Re-read Galatians 5:15.  What stands out to you?

The actions resulting in “devouring each other” are not the “big sins.”  They are the hatreds, contentions, and strife.  There are dramatic, awful results of giving yourself a pass on those things with which “we all” struggle.

Confess them now.  Do not move on in this study until you do.  You must, must, must understand the depravity of your sin.  You must understand the horrendous consequences.

What is God asking you to do?

Understanding the depravity of your sin is one step.  Another step is understanding to Whom you are responsible.

Read Ecclesiastes 3:14-17.  What stands out to you?

 

In verse 17, who does God judge?

 

How does that make you feel?

The desired response of the reality of God’s complete judgment of every man is found in verse 14.

According to that verse, why is God so faithfully consistent?

Like it or not, we are under the authority of God.  Recently, I was driving in another state on an unfamiliar road.  As I chatted with my passenger, I looked in the rearview mirror and found a police car with it’s lights on.  When the officer with the firm tone of voice came to my window, he asked if I had seen him on the hill as I came into town.  I said that I did not.  He asked if I had seen the speed limit signs.  I apologetically said I had not.  He then said, “Well, as you came into town, you passed two speed limit signs, then you passed me, then you passed another speed limit sign.”  I had been unknowingly travelling a consistent 10-miles-per-hour over the speed limit.  Though I did not realize it, I had not only broken the traffic laws, but he had given me four chances to change my behavior before pulling me over.

Modern Christianity emphasizes choice, emphasizes the ability to decide what we will take to God and what we will keep for ourselves.  And though keeping things for ourselves is frowned upon, it never seems to be handled in the reality of our spiritual situation.  Unlike my speeding situation, where I was not aware that I was speeding, we are aware of our sin.  What we seem to conveniently forget is that God is omnipresent judge, and there are serious consequences for our sin.  We know that He does not like our sinful behavior, but we justify every single one of them.  We talk about “struggling” with sin as an excuse to not actually changing.  We “commit to change” rather than actually changing.  We promise we’ll do better without actually doing better.  And we comfort ourselves with God’s grace, conveniently forgetting God’s judgment.

We have all been in public and seen a toddler lose it, melt down, and have a good old-fashioned fit.  We look at the coddling, catering parent, we shake our heads and think how sometimes children need more discipline than their parents provide.  And yet, as we look at our own spiritual life, we have cast God as the coddling, catering character, not powerful enough to do anything about our hissy-fits.  We couldn’t be more wrong.

Using your concordance, or an online Bible search function, look up at least three scripture passages that discuss God’s power or authority.  Write what stands out for each of them.

 

What is consistent throughout these passages?

 

What authority does God have in this life?

Change now.  Change how you view Him, how you interact with Him, how you behave and feel in this world.

Write out those changes.

 

Knowing what you know now, what place does anger, resentment and jealousy have in your life?

 

Who is the judge of your actions?

 

Meditate on Ecclesiastes 5:14.

Share your thoughts! I love to hear from you...