Someone asked Daniel Webster what was the greatest thought he ever had. He looked carefully around
the room, to see if all present were his friends, and then he said, “The most important thought that ever occupied
my mind is that of my individual responsibility to God!” Judgment is written large in the Bible, in all of
literature, and in life itself. Consider the substance of today’s news; almost every story has in it the element of
judgment. This idea is woven into the very fabric of life, and we ought to consider it.
Judgment comes in this life. Usually, judgment is pictured as something that comes at death or at some
far-off time at the end of the world. It does come at these times, but it also can come hourly, at any and every
moment in our lives. The deep and abiding truth in the parable of the Talents, followed by the Final Judgment in
Matthew 25 is that we do what we do because of what we are. If we feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty,
visit those in prison, it is because the love of Christ dwells in us and stirs us up to do these things. If we do not
do these things, it is because the love of Christ does not dwell in us.
In times of moral stress people say, “How could I have done such a thing?” It is not the act that matters
so much, as the revelation of the fact that we are the kind of people who can do such a thing.
Every choice passes judgment upon us. One of Robert Frost’s poems is “The Road Not Taken”; I can
recall the soft southern drawl of my English teacher, Marjorie Cairns as she had us each read aloud a portion of
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference!
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth,
Then took the other, ...
And that has made all the difference.
Our choices reveal much about our characters. What we are is revealed by what has priority in our lives,
the thing to which we are committed, how we are using what we have. Years ago, according to a newspaper
story, a king was forced out of his country. Soon after he left, his palace was thrown open to reporters and
photographers. The things with which this man had surrounded his life amazed them! There was a mountain of
the cheapest literature, including pornographic pictures by the hundreds, comic books of the lewd sort, trivial
gadgets by the ton. The shocking thing was not the articles themselves, but what they revealed. They revealed
the meaning of his life. His life had been sordid and cheap and impoverished. This is the meaning of judgment.
It shows us up for what we are; then we understand why we do the things we do.
This is a world of cause and effect. Life cannot be mistreated without penalty. Jesus is not so much a
judge as he is a light, and in his light, we pass judgment on ourselves. J. B. Phillips translated I Corinthians 4:5,
“When the Lord comes, he will bring into the light of day all that at present is hidden in darkness, and he will
expose the secret motives of men’s hearts!” John said, “Light has come into the world, and men loved darkness
rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” Jesus simply brings light, and we see what we are. This is
judgment. This is judgment, a revelation of what we are―empty, hungry, desperate; when love, power, and
fulfillment are available.