So, how does God judge? And why was John so negative regarding the Pharisees and Sadducees who came to be baptized? Well God judges by actions. He judges by justice. The way people live, the way they treat others is what matters. He judges by justice. The biblical concept of justice is deeper than the legal connotation of justice. In the Bible, justice is the correct relationship with the Lord. Evidence of this relationship is seen in every action of a just person’s life. We call a person a "Godly Man or a Godly Woman" because the love of God is seen in the way he or she treats others. The Godly Man is a Just Man. The Godly Woman is a Just Woman.
That’s why John was furious with the Pharisees and Sadducees. They were more concerned that others respected them than they were about how they treated others. They looked down at people as though they were dirt. But they were the ones whose bellies were in the dirt.
What the Kingdom of God is about is wisdom and understanding, and counsel and courage and reverence for the Presence of God. The cardinal virtues are first found here in the reading from Isaiah. Each virtue speaks about seeing God in others and in the world and acting according to that vision. Each virtue leads us to make justice the band around our waists.
The Kingdom of God is transforming the world. And we can be part of this transformation. We can change the world by being Godly people. We can change the world by being people of justice and love.
The manner that we treat others has far deeper implications than our relationship to this or that individual. When we are kind to someone, we are making the Kingdom a reality in that person’s life. When we treat someone with justice, we are providing the world with an experience of God’s presence.
So, not by appearances does the Lord judge, but by justice, and kindness, and the determination to let the presence of God prepare others to enter His Kingdom. This is justice. And this justice will transform the world.
That is our Advent Hope.