Links Daily Devotional

Choosing Our Judge

“…they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” (John 12:43, ESV)

Whatever else you may think of Tiger Woods after all he has been through, may I suggest that sympathy is appropriate?

Certainly, we can all sympathize with the bad shots. We’ve been there. We know what it’s like to be mystified at how a perfect swing on the range becomes an inconsistent mess on the course. We know what it means to try and try and fail and fail. This is why we’re not on tour!

But here is another reason I would give Woods a break: the scrutiny. For weeks now, I’ve been reading all the “answers” to Tiger’s troubles, posting on Twitter and Facebook and offered up by this commentator and that. It’s relentless. And while I’m guessing a real answer may be found among the many offered, I’m also guessing that Woods isn’t listening. He’s chosen his team and he listens to them.

You may say this second difficulty is not one we can sympathize with out of our own experience. However, we have all given ear to criticisms and suggestions of the work we do. And if we let the chorus ring loudly, we are bound for frustration and disillusionment.

Jesus knew that even in religion, people are susceptible to scrutiny. In fact, we often invite it! The committed religionist falls into saying, “I’ve got my act together. How about you?”

The trouble with this is that we are comparing men to men. That is, we establish standards by which to compare our imperfect selves to imperfect others. To do this successfully, we must choose our judges well, so that the things they regard as important are the very things we’re capable of accomplishing. It’s a nasty game of give-and-give: “I’ll give you a tidy little checklist and you give me plenty of feel-good accolades.”

But this sort of religion, in all its backslapping and smugness, misses the highest of marks. It ignores that God, not man, is judge.

You see, we cannot choose our ultimate judge. Whether we serve him or not, God has set the standard: the righteousness that comes by faith in the Son, Jesus (Romans 3:22). All other attempts at gaining God’s stamp of approval stand no chance, for our man-pleasing righteousness really is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). And when we fall into the trap of acting the part, we become objects of sympathy, blind to our blindness, desperately needing the Lord who is Judge to step in and say, “Come over here. I have something much better. It is my forgiveness and the way of salvation.”

Jeff Hopper
August 3, 2015
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