Romans 2:1-11                  “Excuse Me?”


Last week after our very wet worship, we had our usual Church Council meeting. One of our team was talking and qualified what she was about to say with the words, “I do not want to be judgmental, but I think in church-speak it is called discernment. Yes, we all like to discern.” Wow, that really hit the nail on the head! As followers of Christ, we are not to be judgmental, but we are supposed to be discerning.

Soooo, why do we judge others rather than discern? As someone noted in our Tuesday afternoon bible study at the Regency Puakea: “We are just lazy!” Yup, when you try to discern something, that takes a lot of effort, patience and understanding. It is really very hard work. As our scripture today says, it also takes kindness towards others and an understanding that God will have final say in all matters. We may try very hard to discern what is godly in a situation, but we are apt to fail.     


You may recall that Jesus himself made mention of the act of judging. We covered this in Mathew 7:1-5 (Part of the Sermon on the Mount). Jesus said: “Judge not lest ye be judged. Do not remove the speck from your neighbor’s eye without first removing the plank from your own.” We should be able to live by those words, right?

            Well, our scripture for today seems to tell us that we are struggling with the idea of not judging others still in our lives. The Apostle Paul does not echo Jesus in saying “don’t judge.” He tells us almost in a defeated tone: “Well,  ‘Oh’ WHEN you judge others, please note that you are passing judgment on yourself.” Please note that there is an “O” in my translation which is a negative emphatic interjection both in Greek and in English. It is there in the Greek. It is not just “when you judge” but rather “O when you judge others. . . .” I hope you hear the difference! 

            Okay, I just thought I would take a quick poll of the congregation. Is there anyone here who has never been judgmental in his or her life, never criticized, never held a view that was negative towards another? Never taken the easy “non-discerning” route? Show of hands! WE all have.


            Yes, we all have been judgmental, and I bet we have all been the recipients of someone else’s judgment against you. I want to share a story that I stole from another preacher’s sermon. That would be the Rev. Joyce Meyers. I do not want to be judged for plagiarizing. She told the story once of a farmer who discovered that his old mule had fallen into a ditch. He looked at the sides of the ditch and realized that it would be almost impossible to save the creature. He thought about what he should do. Finally he decided that the most humane thing might be to just bury the animal right there in the ditch. He brought out his shovel and started throwing dirt over the old mule.

            As the dirt landed on the mule’s back however, the mule shook off the dirt and took a step to the side to stand upon it. Eventually there was enough dirt in the ditch that the mule was able to simply walk out. That is what we need to do when people throw dirt on us: we need to shake it off and get on top of it! Amen to that?!


            Getting back to what Paul wrote in Romans, we should understand that Paul is writing a letter in response to things that he has heard going on in the church in Rome. He is not just writing clever thoughts out of the blue. He says twice at this point that what he says is for both Jew as well as Gentile (or Greek). As it turned out, the non-Jewish converts to Christianity were being judged as being unworthy of the Grace of Christ because they did not follow the Law of the Old Testament. They were not circumcised. They ate pork. The women came shamefully to worship without wearing headscarves. The men shaved their beards. The non-Jews in that church felt that they were being judged unfairly. I think that we could all agree that they were! 

            Paul ,therefore, writes the church in Rome stating something that he truly believes of the new faith in Christ: We are all going to be judged by Christ on the Day of Revelation. Paul is very much convinced that the apocalypse is coming quite soon—like in the next ten minutes. That is how he lived his life. That is why he said that he would not marry anybody. He just thought it would be a waste. He did not think that the world had enough time for him to make a family.

            The Apostle Paul is ready to stand before his Creator and Savior. He is ready to have his life judged—even though he knows that he has blood on his hands for when he helped to stone Stephen when he was still part of the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. He knows that he will be judged for persecuting Christians prior to his conversion on the Road to Damascus. Why is he looking forward to this?

            I want you to imagine a courtroom in which you will have to stand to be judged for your life. The judge walks in. Everyone rises and is sworn in. The judge asks for the case file from the clerk. Your case is the size of a book. It is in fact the Book of Life for you. The judge starts reading about how you stole candy from a drugstore when you were young. He continues to read through all of the sins that you have committed, most of which you yourself have long since forgotten about. Finally, he slams the book shut.

            Then, you notice something about the judge. He is smiling. You recognize him. It is Jesus. The angel that gave John his vision of the Revelation showed that Jesus would be on the throne to judge us from the Book of Life (Revelation 20:11). You begin to understand that Jesus is the one who has loved you most your whole life. He was always there for you. In fact, he loved you so much that he already has paid the price of the world’s judgment through his death on the cross. The man who is about to judge you loves you so much that he died for you! His love and grace are immeasurable. Jesus asks, “Are you sorry?” Have you repented? “Yes, then I have saved your life already to the eternal life in heaven. Welcome.”

            What should this mean for us? If our own judgment in the end of days is going to be made with love, kindness, and grace, should we also not judge others to that same standard? Of course! That is Paul’s true point in all of this. He is not saying, “Do not judge!” He is saying, “Judge the world in the same way that Christ will in the end of days.” And, if you cannot—then it is indeed better not to make judgments at all.


            In Paul’s letter, in the second verse, there is an important concept in Christianity that is being used. That is the idea of “truth.” “We know that God’s judgment is going to be in accordance with truth.”  If we are to make sound judgments in this world then it must be in accordance with truth. Right? What good is a sound judgment if it is based on a lie? We as Christians believe in a higher immutable truth! We have to!

            I know in our day and age that we have been lulled by the argument that truths can be relative. “What is true for me is not necessarily true for you.” These arguments are blatantly false. What is true is TRUE. Period. The truth cannot be relative.

            According to the Christian understanding, truth is “relational” however. There is a huge difference between relative and relational truths. Jesus himself said in John 14, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” We believe that Truth is in the person of Christ. Just as we relate to one another, we relate to the Truth in the person of Christ.

I know that everybody sees me a little bit differently and hence relates to me differently. Yet, I am I. I am unique and am no other. My daughters see me as a father. My wife sees as a husband. Some see as pastor. Others see me as the repair guy. Another pastor on the island has taken to calling me “the grant guy” as he wants help getting grants for his church.

In the Christian Faith, we all see and meet Jesus in a different place. We all know Him differently. Yet, Jesus is the Lord of all of our lives. So it is with the Truth, which he is. There are not many truths—there is only one. We just come to know it differently. Our faith is in fact a personal faith in knowing Christ. But, Jesus is also our final judge. Are you not glad it is him and not somebody else?!


Let me close with these admonitions from the Apostle Paul then. When you judge, do so knowing that you will be judged one day by Christ. In your own life seek repentance today, for it is through this that Christ’s loving kindness will manifest. To deny Christ’s judgment is to deny God’s grace through the sacrifice of his son. Know the Truth, know Jesus.