Summary: One person once observed: “If men will not understand the meaning of judgment, they will never come to understand the meaning of grace.” So, what is the "meaning of judgment"? And what does that tell us about "the meaning of grace"?
OPEN: Several years ago, a Charlotte, North Carolina man, purchased a case of rare, very expensive cigars, insured them against ... get this ... fire. Before he had made a single payment on the policy, he smoked every last one of those 24 cigars... and then he filed a claim against the insurance company stating that he had lost the cigars in "a series of small fires." The insurance company refused to pay citing the obvious reason that the man had consumed the cigars in a normal fashion.
Well the man sued the insurance company.
And he won!
The judge ruled that - since the man held a policy from the company in which it had warranted that the cigars were insurable, and also guaranteed that it would insure the cigars against fire, without defining what it considered to be "unacceptable fire," it was obligated to compensate the insured for his loss.
Rather than endure a lengthy and costly appeal process, the insurance company accepted the judge’s ruling and paid the man $15,000 for the rare cigars he lost in "the fires."
But after the man cashed his check the insurance company had him arrested.
Can you guess the charge?
Arson! 24 counts of arson! (see footnote)
APPLY: Now, that’s poetic justice. This man tried to bilk the insurance company out of 1000s of dollars and he paid the price for his arrogance.
There’s something inside of all of us that says that there must be a day of judgment.
There must be a day when the wicked must be made to pay.
The unrighteous must be brought to justice.
Those who are evil must face judgment and punishment.
And the God assures us that – YES – there’s going to be a day of judgment.
Hebrews 9:27 tells us “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” KJV
2 Corinthians 5:10 says: “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”
Or as Revelation 20 tells us – everybody – both great and small will stand before judgment seat. And the books will be opened, and “the dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.”
Based on these Scriptures (and on a few others) I can confidently predict for you today: One day you will stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
Now, just about everybody thinks that’s a great idea.
Because just about everybody thinks THEY ARE NOT going to face judgment.
A little over 10 years ago US News and World Report took a survey and found that approximately 87% of those they interviewed believed they were going to heaven.
They didn’t think they’d have to face judgment.
Judgment was for all the evil people.
And these folks didn’t think they were all that bad.
ILLUS: These folks are like the little boy who was doing poorly in school. One day he gravely approached his teacher’s desk and said, "I don’t want to scare you, but my daddy says if I don’t get better grades.... somebody is going to get a spanking."
Now – WHO did that little boy think was going to get a spanking? (Not him. The teacher) Why? Because that little boy didn’t think he deserved punishment but he was pretty sure the teacher did.
When it comes to the final judgment… there are folks who believe they’ll get a pass.
• Atheists presume there won’t even be a judgment – because they believe judgment is all tied up in this “God-thing” whom they don’t believe exists, and so there is no ultimate judge of their behavior
• Some religions in the Far East believe they’ll escape judgment because they’re all going to be reincarnated. And they’ll get to come back again and again and again… until they get it right.
o And then there’s the vast majority of people who believe they haven’t been all that bad that they’d have to be condemned. Sure they’ve done some bad things… but they’re NOT really bad people
Now… why would they believe that?
What would make them so sure they’re such nice folks?
Well, it’s because they compare themselves with those around them.
And they figure – hey, I’m better than this person/that person.
And because they generally compare themselves with others they don’t like they usually come out looking pretty good.
One person observed: “Rare is the person who can weigh the faults of others without putting his thumb on the scale.” - Byron J. Langnefield
Or as But Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:12 “... When (people) measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.”