Just a couple of tid-bits for thoughts....
First, I think there is human reaction to the word 'judge' that causes many to cower in fear. However, Judging a matter, or being a Judge over a matter doesn't necessarily always mean a "bad" judgement. Good fruit is inspected and judged as.. well.. just that... inspected and found good. It isn't a process of fear.
I LOVE the book 'A Shepherd Looks At psalm 23' by Phillip keller.
Sheep must be inspected. Not to judge them as unfit, but to guard against infections, disease, insects. They also need to be sheared. not something they enjoy at the time, but once the heavy wool is off they frolic like new lambs.
Even the shepherd's Rod is used as proctection - not punishment.
The shepherd uses a Staff and Rod to rescue a sheep by using the crook to reach the lamb in trouble. It's used against predators that would eat the sheep.
As fruit, I know I have bruising soft spots. I'm sure God is judging my good and bad and making the crooked places straight as i go. As a sheep, I'm sure i've had "vermin" hiding in my fleece, i know i've wandered into dangerous places. But I also know that "His Rod and His Staff comfort me" as psalm 23 promises. He doesn't beat me with them. he doesn't abuse me with them.
I had a vision a number of years ago when I was studying psalm 23. i was going through some very tough things at the time and God showed me the ordeals were my valley of death so to speak at the time. Suddenly he was standing next to me as a Shepherd and I was a lamb. I saw where i needed to go, but i was terrified to cross the valley. even though the patch of land i was standing on was barren and i could see that on the other side of the valley was lush pasture.
He spoke so gently and caring to me. he used His Staff to gently nudge me, whispering encouragement the entire time. I came to a standstill however, half-way across. frozen with fear, i had gone too far to turn back but overwhelmed with moving forward.
I want you to share in the beautiful experience of seeing and feeling what happened next for me. The Good Shepherd knelt down and wrapped a scarlet ribbon around my head so that i couldn't see. (Horses need their eyes covered to be led out of a fire. The fire scares them so badly they won't move without something covering their eyes).
The entire time He continued to comfort me, but He would also scold me, but even His scoldings were like endearments. he would say things like, "My little silly Sherry.... silly little girl, no fear" and he would hug me. I knew he wasn't really scolding me. He was simply affirming Who he is and how silly anything else is in comparison. Anyhoo, He then took His staff and put me between His right leg and His Staff. He kept the Staff pressed to my side and He began to walk. Since I was wedged between Him and His staff I walked as He walked until we were on the other side.
The point is that we have many death valley experiences on this side of the veil that he uses to correct us, change us, move us, relocate us. He continues to Perfect the Good work which he has begun in us. i have no fear of the future, for a future with the Lover of our souls only ensures a Good Judge. As a parent, I get it. i have to judge matters all the time with my children. But i judge the matter before me, never the child. I'm not perfect. i make mistakes, but God as judge does not. He does Judge and He will Judge every matter before Him, but He will not Judge our sonship. Actually, I've come to the belief that the Judging will be for our benefit- not His own.
For example.. I have learned that when God asks me a question it's not because He doesn't Know the answer. He asks a question so that I will look at it and learn the answer. So I can have a lightbulb moment. An A-HA moment.
Likewise, when He Judges a matter I believe it's when He is saying, 'COME, let us reason together.' He is not a Father with a contorted face of Rage, spittle flying, belt in hand, saying 'This will hurt me more than it hurts you.' He is not an abusive father. He is not a distant, unapproachable Father. He is not an absent Father. He is not a cowardly Father. He is not a dead-beat dad. He is Abba, Papa, Daddy. He Is the Shepherd of Psalm 23.
Is there punishment once we leave these clay pot vessels? Don't know, don't care. Not trying to be flippant. Just stating my experience. God has Loved me unconditionally yet corrected me along the way. He isn't shy. LOL I just know that God doesn't change His mind about who I am to Him. So if I miss a light bulb moment on this side of the Veil, I don't think He's going to start using His staff to whack at me once I die. I can however, picture Him very easily calling my name, and saying 'Oh Sherry! Little girl, come walk with me. Let's talk about some things...'