Day 3

Who Can Judge?

from the Romans reading plan


Romans 2:1-16, Deuteronomy 16:18-20, Titus 1:15

Children can get easily frustrated.

When something they try goes poorly, even if they haven’t been at it very long, they can get very frustrated. The other day I saw it happen. A kid was shooting baskets. The first shot was bad, and he got mad instead of shooting again. Maybe you know a child who loses it when he drops something, or who sits down with math homework and is beside herself with frustration in 30 seconds or less. Kids’ sensitivities run deep. One day this may serve them well, but in the moment it can be maddening.

My kids struggle with this, but they come by it naturally. When I am tired after a long day at work, I tend to do the same thing. The slightest thing can cause me to spiral into being quite a grumpy dad. Spilled coffee grounds. Not being able to watch a baseball game. Running out of bacon.

When I get frustrated with my kids’ behavior, it is a condemnation of my own behavior.

I thought about this when reading Romans 2. Paul is trying to get religious people, or at least people prone to judging other’s behavior, to see that when you are critical of others, you set yourself up for condemnation. Whether you do this with laws everyone agrees on or the Law of God, you are really pronouncing a guilty sentence on yourself. Why? Because we’re guilty of doing the things we condemn others for.

But Paul doesn’t merely want his readers to feel guilty; he wants them own it, to know it. He wants them to buy into the idea that we all suffer from the same human condition. We are all guilty before God. We all deserve His judgment. The problem is, this is so hard to get people to see. So Paul uses their own moral compass against them. Paul’s goal, of course, is not just to make sure we know our own guilt. He wants us to trace the line from guilt, to need, and then on to the good news of what God has done in Christ.

When I see bad behavior in one of my kids, I acknowledge that behavior is wrong and I tell them they need to stop. But because I do the same, I am also judging myself and revealing my own need. I need to experience the mercy and grace of the cross afresh, just as Paul’s original audience may have needed to experience it for the first time.

We must acknowledge our incessant need for Jesus. And when I do this—when you do this—we can know God’s kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4).

Written by Matthew B. Redmond

Post Comments (16)

16 thoughts on "Who Can Judge?"

  1. Ken Fuller says:

    This hasn’t been the most positive devotion thus far. But understanding the depth and breadth that Paul will take us, this is an appropriate start. We are sinners in need of a Savior. Whether it is our tendency to judge others or another sin that entangles is, we can’t fix the problem. How thankful I am for God’s mercy.

  2. Michael Paul says:

    Father, this resonated deeply with me today. I tend to be sensitive to so many areas where I fail and not sensitive enough to your Spirit weaving grace and mercy into the tapestry of my life. I can so often get irritated when others fail me and judge them by their failures because it inconvenienced me in some way, shape, form or fashion. Truth is, I place myself under this same judgment when I choose to not over-look an offense. I require repentance of another and justify that you require this too but where am I in need of this same repentance? “Your kindness leads to repentance” so that I can extend this kindness to others. “Forgive is as we forgive those who trespass against us”. If I will not enable another to sin against me then how dare I enable myself to sin against YOU! Grant me repentance and forgive my wretchedness. Thank You for your Mercies New every morning! -AMEN

  3. David says:

    “The measure to which you love the world is the exact measure to which you don’t love God.” — Duke Dismukes

    – We should not be seeking to judge for which we were/are previously guilty.

    – We are grace away from being condemned.

    – We should only seek the justice of God.

    – Justice is served one way or another through the power of the Gospel.

  4. Michael Lansdowne says:

    1 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.
    Romans 2:1

    I never really thought about how I was disciplining my boys and how in fact it could be a direct reflection of my own behavior. I know how was raised as a child and we try our best as parents to set a great example for our boys. But we are not perfect and we can get tired and frustrated like anyone else. I thank God for His word and I that He continue to guide us as parents. To react in frustration but to instead act in love. Our boys will ultimately reflect our behavior and the last thing we want to do is set a poor example. I thank you God for this quite time with you. May you continue to mold and shape us to be more like you in Jesus name, Amen.

  5. Adam says:

    This is one of the hardest connections to make, in the U.S. at least, that we need to be rescued, saved. I don’t believe that people don’t think that they’ve done wrong or sinned, for people can see human nature. No one I’ve ever met that says I’ve never done anything wrong can even stand to their own logic. Paul shows a proof of that in Romans 2. Even many who believe in God don’t feel they have a need. The difference is that folks don’t see that they have sinned against him. Sinned against someone greater; sinned against the judge. If we as Christians would see this same fact yet more profoundly, we would see holiness as easier yet more as an obligation in the righteous fear that our relationship with the multifaceted God that we call our own.

  6. Chris Greenwood says:

    11 For God shows no partiality.

    Praise God for this wonderful truth. There is none too high and none too low. No one too rich and no one too poor. And on and on. The cross is the greatest equalizer of all time.

  7. Michael says:

    When I was younger I did not see that I had a need for change. For forgiveness. Then I grew to understanding that I was deeply sinful, but I sill would not see the gospel as the next thing to move towards. I would wallow in guilt because I knew I was lacking. Finally god brought me to see the gospel as what I could only grab a hold of for redemption. I felt guilty by my sin but until I saw the cross as my answer, I would self punish and work out my sanctification on my own, and to my inevitable failure. Thanks be to God that he brought people into my life that spoke he truth of Jesus Christ clearly and honestly to me. I needed to be hit in he face with the gospel so that I would stop performing for sanctification and let he grace of God and the knowledge of his grace change me. Transformative grace has been what has done any sanctifying In me, not my own will or merit. Praise God for Jesus’ cross and the empty tomb!

  8. DES says:

    I just got done judging like this. “My least favorite response to this grief is when people say ‘let me know if you need anything….’….but I’ve said the same thing.” Really?!? Why do I so harshly judge and become so annoyed by something that is so much like me? I think part of the reason is I am reminded of times I’ve fallen short. Times I haven’t been the brother or friend or husband I strive to be and I see my own failures at being the self I desire on display.

    Lord, help me with grace. Help me to see and know and feel the grace and forgiveness you offer. Help me to offer the same grace freely to those who wrong me. And help me to offer the same grace to myself when I fall short. Striving for you and striving for living more in you does not require that I wallow in past failures. It requires I allow you to judge the wrongs I commit and the wrongs other commit instead of me deciding it’s my place and I know best. Help me to love you more and love others more.

  9. Nathan Selby says:

    This was a lot of things to me. One, it was a great reminder that we are all guilty and should not be judging others of the same things we do and try to get away with. We are only setting ourselves up for disaster. Two parts that really stuck out to me was learning that God not punishing us the instant we sin is His grace and love for us. He could easily give us the punishment we deserve, but through His love, he is trying to get us to repent. Also, the verse that hit me was v. 13. I want to be a doer of the word of God. I ask you Jesus, please help me not judge others, be grateful for your grace and love even when we sin, allow me to be a doer of the word, and also re-experience the freshness and joy of what you did on the cross Lord.

  10. Jeremy Wilson says:

    Does my knowledge of God’s standards drive me to condemn others or to extend mercy to others? Jesus says that He did not come into the world to condemn the world, but that the world was already in a condemn state when He entered the scene. He came to rescue the lost and perishing. That should be my desire and my life as well. Does this mean that I should not reach out to brothers and sisters in Christ with whom I have a relationship if they are beginning to trace down a wrong path? Not at all! It is not judging to care deeply enough for a brother that is going down a path which I have already travelled and found nothing but destruction and chaos. Show love and mercy to others, not as a judge (as the self-righteous) but as a humble man who recognizes his own need for grace.

  11. Trey says:

    It’s easy to hold the faults of others against them. Even when I remember that an unsaved person shouldn’t be expected to act saved, I’m not doing it right. As a Christian I need to see the sins of the world and go to God. I need to thank God that those sins do not have to control me, I need to plea to God to keep me from their temptations, I need to thank God that he has saved me from them, and I need to remember that I was once a sinner. I’m not defined by my sin any more, I’m defined by Gods grace. Yes I still sin, yes I fail and fall. But I’m not a slave to it. I need to remember that and make it a part of my life. And I need to meditate on the miracle of my salvation whenever I see it.

  12. Brian says:

    Love this so much. God sent us a savior to take away this sin that Paul describes! We are all broken and in need of Christ. We all judge and are therefore condemned save Jesus Christ. Praise to Him.

  13. Drew Patrick says:

    Romans day 3

    He reads truth study guide

    Is there a command to obey

    Shouldn’t condem?

    Is there an example to follow

    Is there a promise to claim

    God will render each one of us according to our deeds

    Eventual judgement is certain

    Those who patiently and persistently do Gods will will have eternal life .
    Our works are a response to what he has already done

    Is there a sin to avoid

    Condeming, judging

    Is there a principle to follow

    None of us are good. All of us need Jesus to save us

    Other thoughts

    Rascism- Jews vs gentile examples

  14. Matthew Hallman says:

    Lord I am a critical judge and need to focus on my own sin and lies and harsh critique. Please free me of this lord help me to examine my own life more deeply against your word. Hallelujah Yahweh

  15. Del’Shawn says:

    Lord knows that I do my fair share of judging . Sometimes it’s not even out of spite, but this passage made me realize how much I need to re-examine my thoughts and words towards others. I must show them the mercy, grace and love of our Lord and Savior Jesus. I want them to see God’s spirit when they see me. I am second and God is first. That is how we win souls. Showing ourselves friendly as speakers of the gospel

  16. David says:

    It is so easy to point out the shortcomings and failures of those and the world around all the while excusing away my own sinful actions. Why did I curse? Well I was really frustrated and having a bad day? Why did I look at those images? Well I got sucked in and I was mentally exhausted and vulnerable. Are these same things not true for others? Who am I to pass judgment? I am an equal candidate for both God’s judgment or His mercy. All I can do is fall on my face and plead for His mercy and invite others to do the same, trusting in His promises and loving kindness.

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