Oddly enough, God is both Judge and Caregiver. But not both at the same time! It’s an either/or situation. Depending on us, He is either our Judge or our Caregiver. It is our choice. We can either choose make Him be our Judge, or we can allow Him to be our Caregiver. Let me make it simple; To those of us who are depending on our own good works to earn our salvation, He will be the Judge. On the other hand, for those of us who have turned our fate over to Him, depending totally on His grace for our salvation, He is our Caregiver.
Let’s first look at the scenario where we make make Him our Judge. It’s absolutely amazing to me at how prone we are to legalism. I would hazard a guess that the great majority of us would like to consider ourselves as law abiding citizens; i.e., if it is not in violation of the law, then all is well. Or (wink, wink) if we don’t get caught, then also, all is well. Whatever the case, our lives are routinely governed by the law! As it is in all our lives, we probably do many questionable things that fall into that gray area since there is no specific ‘law’ against it. It is also true that we omit some good deeds since they lack a governing law. (It should be noted here that there is no gray area with God). As a general rule however, most of us would like to think that we live between the lines of God’s law. I would love to be able to consider myself a a fine, upright, law abiding citizen.
But, that scenario also has its downside. That scenario proves to be a story with an extremely unhappy ending. When we are depending solely on our good works, we must realize that we will be judged based on all our acts—both the good and the bad. If we expect to receive credit for our good deeds, we will also have to pay the penalty for all our missteps. No excuses! No ‘do-overs!’ Can you imagine standing before Almighty God and proudly presenting the book containing all the good works of our lives. But then we realize that God is taking all our deeds into account—including the times when we stumbled and fell. We must understand that according to Matthew 5:21-28, we will not only be judged by our outward deeds, but also (here’s the real kicker) our innermost thoughts. And, in every case, the records will show that according to God’s laws, not a single mortal soul has lived an absolutely perfect life. No one! Can you imagine standing before Almighty God, the Righteous Judge, as He looks us straight in the eye, pounds His gavel down and renders this verdict, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM (Galatians 3:10 NASB).” And then decrees His sentence, “‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS (Matthew 7:23 NASB).”
WHEW! I shudder at the thought! I’ll guarantee you that I certainly don’t want my life to be judged by His holy standards. There was only one Man on earth who was able to live a perfect life—only one man who lived totally up to God’s standards. And I must admit that my life is rotten to the core when compared to the life of Jesus. I have failed miserably. Just suffice it to say that I have too many smudges and cuts and bruises, caused by the times when I have stumbled and fallen, to stand before the Ultimate Judge on my own recognizance. NO SIR-EE! Not a chance in the world! I have no intent of hanging out all my dirty laundry for all to see, let alone for God to Judge.
But here is the good news—really good news!, There is a way out. We can totally avoid the dreaded judgment of God. HALLELUJAH! Let’s consider this scenario—the scenario where we have turned our fate over to Him, depending totally on His grace for our salvation. We have thrown all our so-called good deeds into the dumpster realizing they were no more than filthy rags in His sight (Isaiah 64:6). If we choose this scenario, when we perchance stumble and fall (and we surely will) He is always there to pick us up, dust us off, forgive our sins and send us on our way, hopefully with lesson learned. Jesus then becomes our Caregiver; He takes the blame and pays the price for any and all our missteps. “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1 NASB).”
A beautiful picture of Jesus, the Caregiver is found in the tenth chapter of Luke, beginning at the 25th verse. Practically any student of the Scriptures is familiar with this story, but for the sake of this illustration, let me paraphrase it again for you. A lawyer (a legalist) thought he could trick Jesus by asking Him, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” To which Jesus turned the tables on him by asking, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” So the lawyer answered and said, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’ ” Then Jesus told him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” But the lawyer, obviously wishing to justify himself, asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” To which Jesus answered by telling this parable, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead.” Isn’t that just like our lives? We are going merrily along our way, staying within the lines and, suddenly Satan attacks us, strips us, beats us to the ground, robs us of our joy, and then walks away leaving us half dead. Seems like that happens quite often in my case. Anyway, Jesus then continued by telling the lawyer that both a priest and a Levite (legalist) saw him and passed by on the other side. As far as they were concerned, the poor guy was on his own. They wanted nothing to do with him. But then, a meek and lowly Samaritan came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion on him—he became the fallen guy’s Caregiver. He bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and then he put him back on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him.
Wow! Isn’t that a beautiful picture of Jesus, our Savior, our Lord, our Caregiver. But even that is not the end of the story. On the next day the Samaritan (the Caregiver) took out two denarii (equal to about two days wages) and gave them to the innkeeper and said, “Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.” Thinking of Jesus, our ‘meek and lowly’ (Matthew 11:39) Caregiver, I am reminded of the beautiful hymn, ‘Jesus paid it all’
As strange as it may seem, both of these diametrically opposed virtues, Judge or Caregiver, were authored by our Almighty God. He wrote the law to outline the standards required in order to live a perfect, unblemished life. Then knowing our frailties, knowing that we could not possibly keep all the law for a whole day—or even an hour—let alone for the entire duration of our lives, provided His amazing grace to cover any and all our sins, no matter how small or egregious. He has already paid the price. “Truly, truly, I say to you, 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 NASB)”.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you Dear Lord!