God’s Secret Judgment
“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)
I don’t know about you, but I think I judge myself every day, at least once, over some trivial matter, such as finishing a task or forgetting to make a phone call. We judge politicians, media companies, reporters, Hollywood stars, sports figures, leaders in every realm of our lives, and even our local grocery stores. I think you see what I am getting at—our judgments are minuscule and insignificant because they have no power to do anything other than discourage and dishearten those who are judged and those who hear these kinds of judgments. I have a family member who is a judge in the state court system. Even legal judgments for those who have either broken the law or are unfairly accused do not compare to God’s judgment. On the other hand, judgments based on biblical discernment about Christian trends, ideas, and theology can be immensely helpful and needful in the right context. These more closely approximates God’s perfect, righteous judgment that is coming to every human being.
I have many secrets with God that I don’t share with others. I love having a secret relationship with the Lord, which includes confessing to him daily and asking him to help me with various confounding personal issues and ongoing sin patterns in my life, hidden from others. However, it is vital that at some point I share about these challenges because none of us are called to live independently of each other, but to encourage, instruct, and love others by our vulnerability and transparency. When we read about God’s future judgment, we may become fearful and even resentful, not wanting our secrets to be found out. But these verses serve as warnings to relate to God as one would a beloved and respected father. Commenting on Romans 2:14-16, the Reformation Study Bible reminds us that in the gospel, the bad news of judgment to come for sin precedes the good news of gracious forgiveness in Christ.*
The man Job had faith in the God of Judgment and cautioned his friends. “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!…be afraid of the sword, for wrath brings the punishment of the sword, that you may know there is a judgment.” (Job 19:25-29)
Referring to Ecclesiastes 12:13, we keep the commandments of God by believing in Jesus Christ and the power of the gospel to penetrate to our secret thoughts, desires, and motives, with the utmost reverence and love. Rather than make so many judgments about the temporal things of this world, let us consider weightier matters of eternal significance today. “Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.” (1 Corinthians 4:5)
* TheReformation Study Bible, Romans 2:14-16, Reformation Trust Publishing (Ligonier Ministries), Sanford, Fl., 2015.