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  • Writer's pictureHope Stuart

From Judgment to HOPE and HOPE to Justice

In the wake of the unrest that is currently consuming all our thoughts, my writing took a deliberate turn from a message on gratitude to a message about judgment, HOPE and justice. As I wrestle with my emotions, utterly disturbed by the inhumane act that ignited the protests and the senseless acts of violence in retaliation, I went to The Word for wisdom. God’s Word did not disappoint. While looking for wisdom, I found new perspective… perspective immersed in HOPE.

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgement you judge, you will be judged and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.

Matthew 7:1-2

I have always wrestled with this verse, fearing that anytime I think negatively about someone there will be a consequence. When I pass judgment, am I judging the person or am I judging their acts? Aren’t we supposed to evaluate right from wrong… good versus evil… love over hate? It wasn’t until I read Adrian Roger’s message about judgment that I found clarity with these verses. Adrian reminds us that it is human nature to judge others, measuring those around us with our own predispositions, experiences and stereotypes. Yup! That sounds like us humans! Furthermore, Jesus warns us in Matthew 7 that our measuring instruments will come back to bite us. Like a measuring tape fully extended, when we release the locking mechanism, we inevitably experience some sort of snap that catches us a bit off guard.

O.k. Mr. Rogers, so I am human when I judge… that sentiment doesn’t bring me the clarity I was longing for. PLEASE tell me there is something more. Come to find out, there is and… IT LIES WITHIN THE WORD “JUDGE” ITSELF. The word judge translated as krino has various meanings. It means to “evaluate”, “choose” or “condemn”. According to Mr. Rogers, Jesus used the word “judge” in Matthew 7 with the meaning “to condemn”. When I substitute the word judge with condemn, that same verse becomes: Condemn not, that you be not condemned. And there it is! Jesus isn’t telling us that we shouldn’t evaluate good versus evil and right versus wrong. He is warning us about the unmerciful and self-righteous condemnation of His children.

Adrian explains that we unjustly condemn others because of our iniquity, insecurity, ignorance and insensitivity. Isn’t that the TRUTH! We are prone to sin; making choices that are self-serving while unmercifully judging others. We relate to what we know; keeping the unfamiliar at a safe distance. We make assumptions of others without knowing what they have experienced or are currently going through. We are indifferent to the suffering of others, to the point of being heartless. Mr. Roger’s message on judgment holds us accountable for our thoughts when they result in the unmerciful condemnation of others while, at the same time, freeing us to evaluate right from wrong, good versus evil, and love compared to hate.

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling.

Ephesians 1:18

My heart has most certainly been enlightened by Mr. Roger’s message. Viewing current events through this new judgment lens enables me to clearly state with a HOPE perspective:

  • The manner in which Mr. Floyd died was heinous. It was an act of PURE EVIL.

  • People of all colors, uniting their voices peacefully against this evil, is GOOD.

  • Violent and destructive acts in retaliation for Mr. Floyd’s death are WRONG.

  • Ensuring justice is served, resulting in systematic change, is RIGHT.

  • Passing judgment on people purely because of the color of their skin is an act of HATE.

  • Seeing others through the lens that Jesus modeled is an act of LOVE.

This new perspective on judgment has brought me freedom from fear of passing judgment… the type of judgment endorsed by Jesus. His presence alone inspires us to evaluate good versus evil, do right over wrong and choose love over hate. This TRUTH has set me free from the fears that have held me captive for some time. Perhaps the same is true for you.

This perspective led me to a message of HOPE… ironically found in the book of Lamentations. I use the word “ironically”, because lament is an expression of grief or sorrow. Hmmm… finding a message of HOPE in a book filled with grief and sorrow seems like a stretch, I know. BUT… our God uses ironic situations to punctuate how truly amazing He is.

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness, “The Lord is my portion”, says my soul, therefore I HOPE in Him.

Lamentations 3:22-24

Therefore I HOPE in Him. Beautiful! Powerful! Inspirational! The people of God in Lamentations were BEYOND heartbroken. Sound familiar to anyone? They had become captives to Babylon, taken far away from their homes. They had been afflicted by God and they walked in darkness. They felt God’s hand against them. It is read that God even aged their flesh and broke their bones. They were besieged by bitterness. They were spiritually imprisoned. Yet through ALL their BROKENNESS and LOSS, they rejoiced in God and focused on His promises. They made a deliberate choice to turn to God and put their HOPE in Him. Ultimately, these people of God chose a HOPE perspective. We can gain strength from them.

In our pain, we find peace in God. During our trials, we find God’s truth. Through our challenges, we are reminded that we are children of God. While experiencing earthly realities, we focus on our eternal rewards. When we focus on the eternal and not the things of this earth, our world is transformed. HOPE is the focus on the eternal… what is to come; knowing God owns tomorrow. HOPE lives when we turn our eyes away from our fears and focus on our Father. HOPE in Him enables us to know He has got us in the palm of His hands… where we are at peace. HOPE knows God has already worked out our problems with his wisdom, power and presence. HOPE never fails because God never fails. His plan is the only one that provides peace, power and permanence. HOPE is rock-solid faith in knowing we will go through the fire and come out refined like gold. HOPE knows WE are always HIS. No matter how upset and disturbed we are… NOTHING can upset and disturb HOPE. HOPE is an anchor for our soul.

While our earth feels like it is on fire, emotionally and yes, physically… we can find HOPE in God’s Word. HOPE enables us to move from judgmental condemnation to the act of judging right and wrong; resulting in the type of justice modeled by Jesus and endorsed by Our Father. Godly-based justice is the only type of justice that will bring the systemic change needed to bring peace to our hearts and minds and… our country. Regardless of our race, gender, status… we are all children of God, born with inalienable rights that our forefathers valued more than life itself. From judgment to HOPE and HOPE to justice. I pray, as a people and as a country, we are closer than ever...

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