Romans 2: 1-3 (ESV)
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?
The list in Romans 1:28-32 doesn’t sound like me at first. Am I evil, covetous, and malicious? Am I a gossipful, slandering, God-hater? Am I: foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless? Apparently so. And in my heart, I know it is true.
Now do you see my irritation toward my own people (those I call brothers and sisters) who believe that Romans 1 is primarily about the gay lifestyle? Do you see my frustration with myself when I realize that I’m criticizing another and not applying the same standard to me?
Matthew, one of the disciples, recorded Jesus as saying much the same thing in one of my favorite passages in his gospel – – the sermon on the mount:
Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, andwith 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.
There are two very important distinctions here that we should not lose.
1) The fallen heart in Romans 1 will be judged
2) Not by me – – I’m just as corrupt
It hurts to see that missing in the church today – – the balance between acknowledging that God has the right to set the standards we don’t meet, and the abdication of our right to judge. It was never ours at all.
What questions does this raise? Myriad. I read this a few months ago. In the blogging Kevin Bacon game I found a slightly sardonic, very funny feminist birder, who is now pregnant. She has a section on her homepage titled Christians Read This. I’ve always been a sucker for short imperative sentences, so I did.
I’ve been thinking about point number 3 every since. Sin. Is that my nomenclature for Romans 1? Is that what I’m saying I was born to? Is that what Romans 2 says I’m not qualified to judge? Good questions.