Part 1 – Balancing God’s Judgement With His Goodness
At the end of the first chapter the Apostle Paul goes into quite vivid details describing the lost state of the pagans who are not in Christ. It’s not pretty. Paul, as an expert in rhetoric, always anticipates his readers thoughts and questions, so he jumps right on to it in chapter two.
Paul’s concern in chapter two is for those ‘moral pagans’ – good unbelievers who do not practice the heinous sins described in chapter one – as well as (and I believe the focus is here) on the Jewish believers who are in the Roman churches. The issue is that the moral pagans and the Jewish believers – but let’s just focus on the Jewish believers – have a tendency of looking down on the Gentiles and proudly proclaiming, “Yes Lord, those pagan Gentiles you are describing are the lowest of the low!” But Paul’s point is that when they judge others like that they are forgetting that they do the very same things. God saves by grace – all sinners who come to Christ come to Him initially spiritually dead, but transformed by the same Spirit – the same grace – into living children of God.
So, the main issue in these few verses concerns our tendency – all believers – to fall into the trap of judging others behaviors – and not only judging, but condemning the other person as well. Paul reminds the church that God’s judgment is based on truth since He is the Truth. Our judgment is a sin because it is most often NOT based on truth. We don’t know all things; we don’t know the intent of the heart; we don’t know the other side; we don’t know much of anything when it comes to the failings of others. The Lord God will judge perfectly, and that is why we are to leave that role up to Him.
Because of our unjust and inaccurate judgments, the Lord will discipline us because by judging we are taking the role of God – and that doesn’t sit well with the Lord.
When we judge others we are showing contempt towards the Lord because His judgment is always coupled (or tripled!) with His kindness (grace), forbearance, and patience. Our judgments are rarely expressed in these ways. Our judgments are very often selfish, in anger, and in vengeance. Before we share anything with anyone we need to ask these questions, based on the acrostic THINK:
T: Is it true?
H: Is it helpful?
I: Is it inspiring?
N: Is it necessary?
K: Is it kind?
Now, of course, Jesus told us that we are to judge, but to do it correctly. When a brother or sister in Christ is in sin we are to lovingly and gently correct them, lest we fall into the same temptation. Our goal with these kinds of judgments is to restore, not destroy. We are always to speak the truth in love; and absolutely stop and pray and consider what that other person is going through. We are a family, and family needs to restore, reconcile, love, and be at peace with one another.