From “Growing in the character of a disciple”: Chapter 12 – What it really meant by forgiving others, and what does it involve?
Let’s look more closely at these final Judgments that are going to be conducted by Jesus. We know that He will judge the whole world, one at a time, and face to face. That includes the person who has wronged you. However, you need to realise that it also includes you because, so far as some other people are concerned, you are the wrongdoer. At least, you are their wrongdoer, so far as they can see. Therefore you are the one that they are commanded to forgive.
Holding that sobering fact in mind is very helpful. It provides us with a more balanced perspective on this whole subject of forgiveness, as we begin to turn our minds to the question of how and why we should forgive the man who has wronged us.
Remember that somewhere in your neighbourhood there are people who may be trying to come to terms with their duty to forgive you. The more you can keep that fact in mind, the easier this issue of forgiveness will become, and the more it will make sense.
At any rate, here are a few sample passages which deal with what Jesus will do when He judges us all, both Christians and non-Christians, i.e. the saved and the unsaved:
At the set time which I appointPsalm 75:2 (RSV)
I will judge with equity.
But thou, terrible art thou!Psalm 76:7 (RSV)
Who can stand before thee when once thy anger is roused?
Then the trees of the forest will sing for joy before the LORD;1 Chronicles 16:33 (NASB)
For He is coming to judge the earth.
And He will judge the world in righteousness;Psalm 9:8 (NASB)
He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity.
Before the LORD, for He is coming,Psalm 96:13 (NASB)
For He is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
And the peoples in His faithfulness.
31because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”Acts 17:31 (NASB)
16on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.Romans 2:16 (NASB)
So, Jesus is the only one in the whole universe who is authorised to judge human beings. The role of Judge has been assigned to Him, and only to Him. It is not for us to do it, either now or later. Realising that is the vital starting point in considering this whole subject of avoiding judging others and engaging instead in forgiveness, i.e. basic forgiveness. As we saw, that essentially amounts to stepping aside, or recusing ourselves, and leaving the judging to Jesus:
Given all of that, you might then ask why we have courts in this world in which people get judged here and now by human judges. Are they wrong to do that? The answer is no, because any person who is appointed by the State to be a judge is actually put there by God. A human judge, who has been officially and validly appointed, as opposed to illegitimately self-appointed, has been temporarily delegated a tiny portion of Jesus’ authority to judge.
So, unless of course he is corrupt, which, sadly can be the case in some countries, a human judge in a court of law is not doing anything wrong. When he does his job he is not disobeying Jesus’ command not to judge others. In fact, he is doing God’s will by providing a legitimate foretaste of God’s justice and punishment where it is needed. That is entirely different from each of us illegitimately judging our fellow men, when we have not been appointed by God to do so. Indeed, each of us are directly commanded not to judge others:
10 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall ]give praise to God.” 12 So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.Romans 14:10-13 (NASB)
5 Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.1 Corinthians 4:5 (NASB)