Romans 2: Judge Not

The epistle to the Romans is not my favorite book of the bible. I’d rather read and study other books, but I have decided to take a closer look at this epistle of Paul. It’s a personal challenge. No one has told me to reflect on this book. It’s my idea. Not a trained theologian or an ordained pastor my reflections are my own.

Today, I want to look at the first 11 verses of Romans 2. This section is challenging. We don’t want to hear how sinful wrong and mistaken we are. We want to hear how much God loves us and all the wonderful things promised to us through Jesus. We want God to sanction our agendas to judge the people we judge to dislike those we dislike to withhold the love and grace lavished on us to the kind of people we don’t want any part of. How often do we pass judgment exclude people and think its OK because God would do the same. God hates this or that group so shouldn’t we judge and exclude them too.

Yet, the Bible repeatedly says God loves everyone and calls on us to love everyone too. God hears the cry of the oppressed and lost and instructs his people to extend their blessings on the least.

Romans 2 begins by saying, “at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” (Romans 2:1)

That’s harsh!

This is saying that we all sin. We all are under the wrath of God for failing to be the kind of people we all know we should be all of us have done things we are not proud of. We all hate, exclude, and withhold kindness, love, peace, and hope. We don’t give up our seat, hold the door open, help a stranger in need, smile at a child, speak with a lonely person, say thank you, hi, or wish someone well. On any given day, we fail to do countless things, because we are tired, hurt, unwilling, and distrustful. We fail so many times at being the hands and feet of Jesus to a broken world. We have excuses. You have yours. I have mine. God will not hear any of them. We are judged in the same way we judge others. We fail to be the kind of person God created us to be.

Paul goes on to ask a question each of us needs to contemplate. 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?(Romans 2:3)

He follows this question with another. This second question points us to the heart of the issue. It points us to the gospel the good news of Jesus.

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? (Romans 2:4)

I believe God has provided something to help us with not judging and loving everyone. God has something for us that will help us be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world.

We have the bible. The bible from beginning to the end tells the stories of specific people interacting, following, worshiping, going astray then coming back to life with and in God. It teaches us how to properly respond to God and live with God. The bible is a gift for us not a weapon to be used but a tool for transformation and our journey in this life and towards the next. The bible—its stories, poems, teachings, hopes, warnings, and promises should be taken seriously.

We have Jesus. Jesus our friend teacher Lord and Savior came to give life and life to the full. He has shown us what it means to live life fully. Jesus calls all to come and see. To come and see that God is good and intends for His love to transform us into the people who can and will live in the Kingdom beginning now and stretching beyond this life to the next.

We have community. Just as God is a dance a drama in community, He has called us to form and live in community with others. We have pastors and leaders who care and challenge us to be all we can be in and through Christ. We have fellow believers that we can and should call friends who come along side and journey with us. I learn and live best in community and my desire to find and build a life with that special someone points beyond my desire to be in relationship to the God who calls and loves in relationship with all of creation.

Paul finishes this section by writing, “God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, he will give eternal life. For those who are self-seeking who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good. For God does not show favoritism.” (Romans 2:5-11)

The foundation of judgment will be what people have or have not done. Paul is not here denying what he emphasizes elsewhere salvation is a gift, not a reward. Jesus saves, we respond. Divine judgment is based on every aspect of a person’s relationship to God. Only those who receive grace do in fact seek “glory and honor”. Others are “self-seeking”, not God-honoring not Christ-centered.  Apart from grace, there is only one verdict possible.

So, may we do good love everyone and not judge thus entering Eternal Life now. Our future will mirror the life we lead here and now, if you want heaven later, than live in the ways of heaven now.

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