One little phrase that has helped me so much

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.

"The Judge is at the door."

“The Judge is at the door.”

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.

7 comments

  1. Sarah says:

    This is very timely for me. I have a question: what happens when there is an issue within church fellowship {ie. someone making waves/hurting others by their opinions and lack of awareness that they are doing so} and you/or people involved on the firing line need to talk about this person? I know there is a fine line between discussing and gossiping. It’s very tricky. God will judge this person, but how do we deal with such a person in the meantime? There is the dichotomy of wanting to love this person because they are obviously broken, but then, they are also very scary and something needs to be done about their behaviour {which means, words are needed to be said about such person among a group of people}. Does this make any sense? What would you do in such a situation?

    PS: I am a fairly new follower, and love your words.

    • Sarah Beals says:

      Hello, Sarah. I just clicked over to your site. So nice to have you here. :) I understand what you are saying—there are certainly times for confrontation and it’s a good practice if restoration is the goal. What I’ve learned through years of ministry is that people rarely confront because they are truly trying to restore another person. Usually, it’s because they are hurt and want to vent and it just leads to more sin and more tearing down of the Body of Christ. To be honest, I’ve learned by watching the negative example of one such woman that giving full vent to your emotions (grumbling, complaining, etc…) is often cloaked in the need to “confront.” I rarely confront, honestly. Unless it is a theological error or someone is going down a wrong path, I usually try to “come along aside” and befriend. If I’ve been offended or hurt, I am SUPER careful about NOT confronting. When others hurt us with words, it’s easy to want to murmur to ourselves and “judge” them–but God is the ultimate judge and our hearts are too sinful to see things with “scripture precision” in the midst of trials. I would encourage being a good example to this person, pray for this person, and realize that you can’t change his/her heart…but your prayer may prompt the Spirit to change them. The preceding verses in James talk about the “patience” of the farmer who waters…and I think it lets us know that we can’t “rush” growth in our own lives or in the lives of others…but it will come in God’s good time. Does this make sense? :)

      • Sarah says:

        Yes! This is really helpful, thank you. You are very right about how our talking is really murmuring because we’ve been hurt etc. I know I’m guilty of this. Thank you! x

  2. Rhonda Whitcomb says:

    Sarah, thank you so much for this. We all have a tendency to murmur and complain about everything! I’ve caught myself so many times! I hate it when that happens. There have been times when someone changes their mind about where we are all going to eat somewhere before our ministry. I got so bitter. Then God just whooped me good!!!!! I try to look at it all in Gods eyes. Some people just have their ways and they may not ever change. They have rough days too and God is working with them too. Can you imagine what God thinks of us too when we complain about so much? Our thoughts, our actions and the way we look and complain about certain people, is definitely not pleasing to God. What is that song we taught our children, be careful little hands what you do, your mouth what you say? Well, be careful little mind what you think. Again, thank you so much for this reminder.

    • Sarah Beals says:

      Yes, this is certainly our “default” setting by nature. Imagine what God thinks when He’s done so much for us and I complain because someone rubbed me the wrong way? Years ago I came into contact with a very toxic person. Her words were like poison. Of course, I saw her blatant sin so easily, but God convicted me that MY sinful words, to whatever extent I use them, are such an offense to His character and life-giving words. He taught me to stop spending time with those who complain because I have my own struggles with this issue. Especially in ministry, where Satan loves to get a foot hold, it’s so important to remember that God sees and knows all thoughts, conversations, and motives. He’s at the door and aware. It’s comforting because He’s a loving Heavenly Father, but it’s challenging, because we know that He expects obedience from us, too. :) Love you, sweet friend. You are always an encouragement to me and I don’t believe I’ve ever heard you utter one complaint.

  3. Tim says:

    The example you gave as a mom is one I have lived out at the courthouse as well, Sarah. Occasionally there will be someone in court whose behavior changes dramatically when I take the bench. My clerk, bailiff and court reporter see what they were doing before i came in, though, and bad behavior whether in my presence or out of it is never appropriate. The judge literally is at the door.

    God doesn’t need his staff to alert him of a problem. As you point out, he already knows what’s going on. And unlike parents and courtroom judges, he always knows the right way to handle things.

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