I recently shared with a friend a tiny phrase that has been “revolutionary” to me. It’s pretty much changed my outlook on everything.
Although I’ve read this phrase many times before, somehow the truth of it took root several years ago and gave me such comfort and encouragement that God is aware of every detail of my life and I can trust Him and obey His Word with confidence. It has helped me so much and I want to share it with you today.
It’s in the book of James, chapter 5, after a lengthy discussion about what genuine faith looks like, and after multiple warnings against using our tongues to sin, chapter 5 gives us this encouragement to be patient with others and to stop grumbling:
You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.
Behold, the Judge is standing at the door.
Do not grumble, so that you may not be judged. Don’t assume the position of Judge by badmouthing people in your heart or under your breath or you’ll be judged–oh and by the way, the Lord is listening –He is standing at the door–and will act soon. So, watch your own words and don’t sin by complaining about others. This will give you less to answer for.
Here’s a mom-example:
Have you ever entered a room only to overhear the tail end of a “gripe-fest”? When the kids see mom, they stop, because mom has expectations and “griping” isn’t tolerated. Mom’s the “judge” in the house -and just her physical presence is reminder enough that bickering is off limits and she’ll punish those who disobey the family rules and injure others with their words.
This is the picture we have here.
The judge is standing at the door.
- So no more complaining. Watch your words. Be careful of your heart, because Jesus will judge you and them.
- No more two-faced speech, blessing God and cursing men because God is aware and will act.
- No need to set the record straight or seek revenge, because Jesus is near and He will judge.
Even our unspoken words and the discontentment that lives in our hearts are known and seen by the Judge. Motives are clearly seen as well. This realization should make us do some self examination.
This has helped me to ask,
- Am I being obedient with my speech?
- Do my words show the marks of a person with genuine faith?
- Are my words laced with wisdom and goodness to everyone I come into contact with?
- Am I justifying sinful speech because I feel I have a good reason to complain?
- Am I living with the realization that God is near and real, or am I living as though He’s inconsequential and my action/words won’t have consequences?
When others lack integrity of speech, it can be tempting to complain in our hearts about their failures and recite their wrong doings over and over again in our mind. But this is unnecessary because their words have nothing to do with us, and everything to do with them–and God will judge them.
We don’t need to worry about injustices or past hurts because God sees and knows all of it and will judge righteously on our behalf.
For those of you who have been hurt by people who should have known better and who will never on earth apologize or admit fault because of their own pride, God will judge them. We can take comfort in the fact that He’ll do a just job of judging and we can give up that grudge and stop holding vengeance over that person’s head. God is God and He’ll do what is right.
“The judge is standing at the door” is also a reminder that we live for an audience of One.
It’s an encouragement to speak with integrity because Jesus commands it. It propels us to love the unworthy and unlovely because God commands it.
Instead of murmuring about the difficult people in our lives, we are given the opportunity to practice patience with those who sin against us. God’s not done with them, and He’s actively teaching me through their undesirable action, to see if I’m going to obey and trust His word and leave the judgement to Him.
The judge is standing at the door– He expects me to obey. Isn’t this what genuine faith is all about? Living in the reality that God is really real and that He has expectations for my life? When I claim to be His follower, I am bowing my will and desires to His better path and plan?
There’s comfort knowing that He’s in control, good, just, and He will judge.