“You therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” Romans 2:1
We often read or hear people criticizing any attempt to encourage morality by invoking the words of Jesus, “judge not, or you will be judged.” The words of Paul in Romans 2 can also be used in this way. Critics of moral exhortation seem to suggest that we cannot make judgments about other people’s behavior.
It doesn’t take much thinking to understand the fallacy of this argument. It is impossible to live without making judgments. And it is impossible to live well without making moral judgments. I believe Christians should be in the front lines of moral decision making in every place where they have the chance to do so. Of course, we need to encourage the morality of Jesus, not the morality of some group that we like or a tradition that we want to preserve.
And the warnings of Jesus and Paul should always season our judgments. Every Christian judgment should be rendered with the recognition that we have the same monstrous evil in our own hearts that everyone has. If we had been born in Gaza, we would likely be cheering the launching of rockets into Israel too. If you cannot see that in yourself, then you fall under the judgment of Paul in this passage, “because you who pass judgment do the same things.”
Our loyalty must be first and only to Jesus. When we get this relationship right, every judgment will be rendered by His Spirit in us. We will make judgments based on humility and righteousness and love, not fear, anger or self-righteousness.
We cannot live without making judgments. We cannot make Christ-like judgments without the humility of Christ. In another of his letters, Paul gives us the key. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interest of others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:3-5).
Love in Christ,
Greg Burriss, Pastor
Rocky River Baptist Church
Siler City, NC