JudgeI put the jury summons in a prominent place on my desk. I wrote the date on my calendar. I actually looked forward to doing my part for law and order. One Monday morning casually starting the week, I suddenly realized it was today! I had one of those gasping, dash to the car, hope I don’t get a speeding ticket panics.

I slipped into the courtroom embarrassed and tardy by 45 minutes. Soon the judge allowed everyone to leave except the selected jurors, and me. Summoned to the bench I made no excuses and braced myself because I failed a legal obligation. I did not want to face judgment.

Who does? Judgment usually means someone else decides if your behavior is acceptable. Our post-modern mindset that everyone can have their own values is probably why the most oft-quoted Bible phrase is “Judge not lest you be judged,” especially by those who heed no other verse.

If it’s true that every yearning of the human heart can only be completely fulfilled by God, then the yearning to escape judgment is no different. But effecting such escape cannot come from believing that God cannot be both of love and judgment. Believing something doesn’t make it so! So how, then, does God fulfill our yearning to avoid the final gavel?

Jesus has the answer. “He who believes in (the Son) is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already because he has not believed” (John 3:18). Remarkable! Here it is again: “He who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” (John 5:24). Faith in Christ means you are not judged the way an unbeliever is. Paul explained further, “He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us…having nailed it to the cross” (Col 2:13-14). The indictment against the believer is canceled!

Grace really is good news! But beware that grace truly contemplated risks being misunderstood as license to sin. Paul took that risk, but checked it twice by declaring that grace does not allow believers to live an unrepentant life. He explains to the contrary that the believer’s identity is Christ, freed from sin and now a slave of righteousness (Rom. 6).

It is good news that God has done for us what we could not do for ourselves. What remains is for you to believe and enjoy!

So, back to my story. Either the judge saw my sincere remorse, or he was just too busy to fool with me. Whichever the case, he let me go with a stern warning. I walked into the courthouse already guilty; I walked out not judged. My gratitude made me determined to be a model citizen. Thanks, Judge.