Judge Not

Opening Prayer

Father God, thank You for Your mercy. Teach me to give mercy even as I have received it.

Read Romans 2:1–16

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. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.

12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

Reflect

Can you imagine how it must feel to be responsible for judging fellow human beings?

I enjoy watching courtroom dramas on television. What really strikes me is the often very human portrayal of the juries: ordinary people given awesome responsibility. The conclusions they come to will affect other people’s lives, sometimes pretty drastically. I know that my judgment of people can be a lot less considered, and much more of a knee-jerk reaction to a situation.
Paul here tells the Romans that by passing judgment on others they are condemning themselves in God’s sight because they are guilty of doing the same things (1). Roman Jews were prone to boast of their history as God’s people, but the Gentile Christians had a different strength: a conscience. Paul says that they are a law unto themselves (14). Today that phrase can imply being headstrong and self-willed. But for the Gentiles it is a much more positive attribute. Paul praises
them for their reliance on inner promptings.
Sometimes we too have to go with our inner promptings. But we have the added benefit of knowing Jesus and having his Spirit within us. The word of Jesus written on our hearts will keep us on the right track.

Apply

Is there someone you have judged harshly? Do you need to make things right? How can you show them God’s mercy today?

Closing prayer

Thank You, God, that You love everyone equally. I pray for Your blessing on all of Your children.

Syndicated via Scripture Union. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide

Terry Schneider