It’s Monday, March 2: Day 6 of our Lent journey. My name is Gina, and I’m excited to start a new week with you as we take a few moments together for a scripture reading, reflection and prayer.
Theme: The good news of judgment
Scripture: Matthew 25: 31-46
In today’s Bible reading, Jesus whisks us into the future for a peek at the final judgment that He says will come at the end of days. If you take the time to read all the Scripture passages for today, you will see a natural flow to this final scene.
In the Old Testament reading of Leviticus 19: 1-2 and 11-18, the Hebrew people are about to enter the promised land. Moses is giving them the laws they need to follow so they can experience justice, peace and prosperity in their new home.
In the Psalm reading, 19: 7-14, the writer says God’s law is perfect, just, and revives the soul. God’s law is better than gold or honey.
So, it fits when we move to the New Testament reading in Matthew, where Jesus describes Himself on a throne at the end of time, flanked by dazzling angels, with the nations gathered before Him. What He describes for us is a scene of judgment.
Judgment has become an unpopular concept in many cultures today. Depending on where you live, you might hear people joke, “Hey, don’t judge me!” But behind the humor is a pervasive sentiment that it’s not a nice thing for people to judge one another. In individualistic, secularized nations, we may feel pressured to keep our thoughts about other people’s choices and beliefs to ourselves. It has become culturally unacceptable to voice anything that might sound like a judgment, no matter how deeply we are concerned for that person’s well-being.
It’s just our fallen human nature to want to shape a reality for ourselves in which we are not held accountable for our actions, where we never have to suffer the natural consequences that follow unwise or wrong choices.
And so, we may feel pretty uncomfortable with the thought that, one day to come, God is going to judge us. Yet, Jesus does not shy away from promising that we will be called to account for our earthly lives.
But, did you know that judgment is actually Good News?
In countries with criminal justice systems that are not corrupt, when a victim has experienced an injustice, the person accused of committing the injustice faces a jury and a judge in a courtroom. If the person is truly guilty and is found so, that person is convicted, and faces what is believed to be a fair punishment that is equal to the crime. This process is our human attempt to answer injustice with justice.
If you are the victim of a crime, and the person guilty of the crime is held accountable and punished, a fair judgment is good news! It means justice has been restored! At least as much as it can be here on earth.
Judgment is only not good news to the perpetrator of an injustice, says the writer of Proverbs (21:15).
It may feel a bit uncomfortable to read today’s passage, and if so, maybe we have lost our understanding that God’s holy and perfect judgment is a wonderful thing. Or maybe we have experienced the pain of humans’ imperfect attempts at justice, which often simply create in more injustice.
In contrast, God’s perfect judgment is a hopeful thing. It’s great news, because one day, Jesus Christ’s perfect understanding and infinite goodness will overturn all the injustice in the world and usher in an age of everlasting justice and goodness. All wrongs will be made right, and there will never again be injustice in His creation.
Throughout each of today’s readings, God desperately pours out detailed instructions and warnings, because He wants us to be on the right side of that judgment.
And that’s why He sent Jesus, so that each person who submits entirely to Jesus as their Lord will experience what is written in Romans 8:1-2:
“So there is now no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus. For the power of the life-giving Spirit—and this power is mine through Christ Jesus—has freed me from the vicious circle of sin and death.”
God’s deepest desire is that on judgment day, every person who stands before Him will hear His words, “Come, blessed of my Father, into the Kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world.”
- What do I think about the concept of judgment? What does my culture believe about judgment?
- When I think about God’s ultimate judgment, is it uncomfortable, or even frightening? Or do I feel confident and at peace? Do I need to make something right with God so that I can see His judgment as good news?
- Is there someone in my life who needs to hear the good news of God’s judgment, and how to be ready for it?
Almighty Father, thank You for being a God of justice, of goodness, but also of grace and mercy. You alone know each human heart, and therefore Your judgment is perfect, and that is good news.
Thank You for clearly laying out what we need to do to obey You, so that we enjoy the blessings of an unbroken relationship with You. Thank You, also, for the Holy Spirit, who lovingly guides us moment by moment to walk within Your instructions—if we are attuned to hear. As we journey with You, we are so grateful that You give us the peace and assurance that one day we will hear You say, “Come, blessed of my Father, into the Kingdom prepared for you.”
In the words of the Psalmist (19: 13-14):
Keep me from deliberate wrongs; help me to stop doing them. Only then can I be free of guilt and innocent of some great crime.
May my spoken words and unspoken thoughts be pleasing even to you, O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer.
Thank you for joining me in our sixth day of Lent podcast. I look forward to being with you again tomorrow!
Today’s additional Scripture passages can be found in
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