Romans 2:1-5 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. 2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3 Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?
Everyone reading this article has either accused someone else of being judgmental or has been themselves accused of being judgmental. But, what exactly is Paul condemning when he writes, “in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself.”
Paul cannot be saying that recognizing sin in another person is wrong. If this were the case, Paul is guilty and has condemned himself by identifying sin in the book of Romans. Paul is not saying that confronting sin in others is wrong. If this were the case, Paul is himself guilty of being judgmental because he is confronting the reader for being sinful. So what does it mean to judge someone in an unrighteous way?
You the Judge?
Unrighteous judgmentalism that Paul condemns is the elevation of self as the rightful judge over others. Jesus, himself, actually confronts this and helps us to make sense of this kind of sinful judgmentalism.
Matthew 7:1-5 Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye
Notice that the rebuke above is not for taking the speck out of your brother’s eye. That is not where the problem lies. If I have something in my eye, I want your help removing it. The rebuke is trying to remove someone else’s speck without acknowledgment and removal of their own log. If I have a speck in my eye, I don’t want you to try to remove it while your own vision is impaired. Being judgmental, therefore, is to point out everyone else’s speck while denying your own log. You cannot even be a Christian, however, without confessing the reality of your own log.
Jesus provides us with another example in Luke 18.
Luke 18:9-14 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee,standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
The religious man in this text “treated others with contempt.” He did so because he “trusted in himself that he was righteous.” This is the essence of sinful judgmentalism. We fall into judgmentalism when we place ourselves in the place of judge and others in the place of the judged. The truth of the Gospel, however, is that we are all in the place of the judged. We all will one day stand before the one true Judge. The Judge, however, has provided a way to escape the judgment through Jesus Christ who took the judgment upon himself. That is the gospel. So how do we share that gospel message without setting ourselves up as if we were the judge?
We Found Forgiveness!
It is not that we should never confront sinners with their sin, rather it is that we are to lovingly confront sinners while identifying ourselves as one of them though graciously saved by faith alone in Jesus alone. It is not judgmental to warn someone that drug addiction is going to kill them. It is judgmental to treat them as lesser because of the work of God’s grace that may have kept me from indulging in that particular form of sin. We do not warn sinners as if we are the judge, rather we warn them that there is a judge and we point them to the pardon that this gracious judge has offered through the blood sacrifice of Jesus our Lord.
We are sinners leading sinners to the place where we found forgiveness.
We share the Gospel in a “don’t judge me society” only with a clear emphasis that we too are sinners deserving of judgment, but have now been saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Only the truth of the Gospel spoken with humility, grace, and love is the truth that will pierce through the “don’t judge me” accusations that await us.
We Love as He Loved Us
If we have not love, we gain nothing (1 Cor. 13:2-3). It is out of love for others that we so long for them to find the forgiveness we have found. It is from a love for others that we warn them of the sin that seeks to destroy. As it would be unloving for a doctor to withhold the diagnosis, so it is unloving for us to withhold the truth of God’s word. We proclaim and we teach and we warn with obvious, abundant, unapologetic love. We want for others what we have received. As I do everything to keep my child from temporal harm even when he doesn’t understand, so I do everything to keep loved ones from eternal harm even when they don’t fully understand. It will be hard to accuse you of being judgemental if your eyes are filled with tears of godly affection for he or she that you confront with the truth.
Sharing the Gospel in a “don’t judge me” society will require what God has always required – truth, humility, and the great love with which he first loved us.
By His Grace & For His Glory,
Pastor Brandon Langley
St. Rose Community Church