“Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man–you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself–that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.”–Romans 2:1-11
Our culture celebrates the idea of not judging others. Non-Christians use this line constantly to tell Christians to back off popular views on sexual immorality, abortion and a host of other sins plaguing the world.
But does God’s Word really say not to judge others? Is that what Paul is getting at in this passage?
There’s a key part to this text, and it’s the same key we find in Matthew 7, when Jesus is talking about judgment. That verse reads:
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”–Matthew 7:1-5
We must “take the log out” first. Paul attacks the popular Pharisaical belief, which the former Pharisee would be familiar with, that being Jewish, that being circumcised and knowing the law made one right with God.
Paul calls out any Jewish reader reading the previous passage calling out a litany of sins who thinks himself better than another because they don’t commit murder or adultery or the other sins he lists.
Paul will soon make it clear that “all have sinned,” and all “fall short” of the glory of God.
So does our own sin keep us from judging others? It does if we don’t acknowledge our own sin.
So how do we judge rightly?
- Acknowledge sin and repent. Acknowledge where you fall short, confess sin to the Lord and ask for forgiveness and grace to follow Jesus.
- For rebuking Christians: Lovingly confront brothers and sisters in Christ. Let the grace of God make you loving and kind, not arrogant and haughty.
- But…be firm. God doesn’t play games with us regarding our sin, and though we ought to speak the truth in love, we better speak the truth.
- For calling out non-Christians: Share the gospel. How wicked is it if we tell people they have a problem without giving them the solution?
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer for self-righteousness and unrighteousness. His grace melts the hard of both the legalist and those who know how sinful they are. His grace reminds us of our need for Him, whether we are doing “well” or doing “poorly,” because at the end of the day, we are all sinners who need grace.
Share that grace today.
Lord, may we not judge others before judging ourselves. May we let the gospel inform our judging and may we not let our self-righteousness get in the way of sharing the gospel.