As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head.
The judgment of God has been a stumbling block for many people. Many people never make it to the cross of Christ before turning back at the sight of a God who judges. We prefer a God who supports us, encourages us, forgives us, loves us and provides for us. Not a God who will judge us. We perceive His judgment to be unfair or unnecessary. We believe that to be a good person and to love your neighbor as yourself is the answer to the ills of humanity and the suffering of this world.
But why hasn’t this approach worked? Have we reduced suffering in this world? Why is the golden rule truly not sufficient for the world we live in? The answer is sin. Sin is not a comfortable word, but in the context of human history, it is the most sufficient explanation for the trajectory of our world’s suffering and pain.
Within us is a desire to be the judge but not to be judged. Therefore, due to our innate sinfulness, God has no need to judge us according to His standard of holiness. With our overconfidence in our own authority and righteousness, God simply lets our own standard be the standard we are ultimately judged by. Every time we think that someone ought to do this or that. Every time we think that someone should have done this or that. Every time we make private proclamations to ourselves that we will never do what he or she did. In these moments we construct our grading scale. This is not a new perspective on God’s judgment. This is verse 15! These are God’s words. When left with this prospect of judgment, what we see is not a God that upholds a standard too high for humanity to reach, but individual men and women with such an inflated view of their own perfection and such a limited ability to exercise grace and forgiveness that none can stand to be judged according to their own standards.
According to verse 15 and an honest reflection of the self we are truly in need of a savior. We have failed to maintain our standard of righteousness from the very beginning, and we will never successfully uphold it. Never. We need a mediator. We need someone perfect. We need someone to go before us and plead our case. Verse 15 has nothing to do with people doing Christian things or not doing Christian things. Verse 15 has everything to do with people. It has everything to with the human heart. It has everything to with our collective sin. We are all guilty of judging those we have no right to judge. The perfect God has always had the right and authority to judge an imperfect creation. We are nowhere as good as we think we are, and God is so much more perfect than we think He is. How hard is it for you to forgive someone who lied to you? Just one. How many more times has God been lied to by His own children? And is the end now? No. Verse 15 says, it is near. He has waited and waited and waited for us to turn from our diluted state of self-glorification back to His holiness and perfection, as the only means for us to survive our own judgment. God is not the one with a short fuse and a readiness to judge. We are. God is not the one that established unrealistic standards for others to abide by while never consistently abiding in the standards Himself. We are. The judgment of God is terrifying, but nowhere near as terrifying as our own.