Day 3

Who Can Judge?

from the Romans reading plan

Romans 2:1-16, Deuteronomy 16:18-20, Titus 1:15

BY Guest Writer

Scripture Reading: Romans 2:1-16, Deuteronomy 16:18-20, Titus 1:15

Head shaking, brow furrowed, she looked perplexed. Confusion filled her dark brown eyes. “I don’t understand,” she said.

I explained further. “The Chinese and Japanese character used to translate ‘sin’ is the word zui, which means ‘crime.’”

She nodded and motioned for me to continue.

“I think that translation can be somewhat limiting. I imagine you haven’t really spent time in jail or committed a crime like robbing a bank. I imagine you consider yourself a pretty good person.”

She nodded again.

“I used to think of myself as a pretty good person, too” I said. “But then someone asked, if a movie were made of my life, if there were certain scenes I’d want deleted. I knew exactly which scenes I didn’t want anyone to see. And these scenes were not just of the times I did things I knew I shouldn’t, but also when I didn’t do things I knew I should. Our sin problem shows itself in both ways—in the things we do and the things we don’t do. We all sin. No one lives a life free of scenes they wouldn’t want others to see.”

Paul goes to great lengths in the first three chapters of Romans to help us understand the totality and consequences of our sin. He lists the manifestations of sin at the end of chapter one, then goes on to explain how his readers not only judge others, but also practice the very things for which they pass judgment.

And it’s true: most of us consider ourselves “good” people, qualified to judge others for their many shortcomings—that is, until we place our own sin-plagued lives next to Christ’s righteousness. Jesus is the only one who lived a perfect, God-honoring, shame-free life.

Both Jews and Gentiles—and both you and I—fall short under God’s holy judgment. We are all guilty, often of the very same things for which we condemn others. But there is good news:

For God loved the world in this way. He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
– John 3:16

We are born spiritually dead, our sin separating us from a life with God. But God, in the person of Jesus Christ, has made a way for us to know Him, both in this earthly life and for all eternity (John 17:3).

Just as God Himself provides the way for us to be reconciled to Him, He also does the work of revealing to us our sin—of showing us how our “goodness” falls short of His righteousness. The Holy Spirit does the convicting (John 16:8), which frees us to love and to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

In Romans, Paul writes systematically to knock away our sense of ever being righteous in and of ourselves. God’s invitation is not to mere ethics or manufactured goodness, but to the utter, complete transformation that takes place when we are made new in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

May God melt away our pride that keeps us from total dependence on Him. By His grace, may we love others, even as they fall short like we also do. And may we recognize and receive God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. Amen.


Vivian Mabuni is a speaker and author, and a sushi, white Christmas lights, post-its, and coffee-with-friends lover. She has been on staff with Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) for 28 years and serves with Epic Movement, the Asian American ministry of Cru. Connect with Vivian on Twitter and Instagram at @vivmabuni.

Post Comments (199)

199 thoughts on "Who Can Judge?"

  1. Frances Nicole says:

    I think this is one of the controversial insights we get from the Bible as there have been also claims said by people like that “only God can judge me…” what can you say about this then? I read that there is a thing like righteous and loving judgment because it was mentioned in Matthew that Jesus didn’t entirely say we can’t judge.. Although He said we must be aware of false prophecies and discern their righteousness means we must judge fairly and honestly… I’m just in doubt how to attack this issue.. Because we are still accountable for our sisters and brothers right? I want to know how yous think about that? We still are led to discern right from wrong.. Because we know the God we serve is a God who is just and a God of order.

    1. Courtney Hamilton says:

      I agree with what you are saying. When reading over this I get the idea of pride. A prideful judgement is comparing one sin against another in order to raise ourselves above others. To God sin is sin and there is no scale. To humanity sins come in variety of degrees meaning we can look at someone and say “at least I am not as bad as them.” I think this is what Paul is getting at here. When speaking to our sisters and brothers we approach them with love, it is where your mind and heart sit during the judging that matters.

  2. Amber says:

    When I find myself struggling with another person I remind myself that God loves them so I should too. That reminder alone puts things in perspective for me, reminding me that only God knows our true hearts and loves us all the same.

  3. Jill Sweet says:

    Having been the victim of physical and sexual abuse as a child, I have lived much of my Christian life with a strong sense of justice. This often does come out as judgement against others which is not acceptable. I am thankful for this reminder today. I will focus on myself and my actions and leave the rest to God!

  4. Amber Holbrook says:

    More recently in my life I have realized that I am more of a judgmental person then I thought, although mainly unconsciously. I’m really trying to exercise kindness and think more Godly thoughts instead of being judgmental. I need the Lords help to get ride of my fleshly pride!

    1. Evin Musgrove says:

      Same hereeeee

  5. Rose Braga says:

    I really need the help of God honouring him in every aspect of my life!! Really appreciate how candid everyone is on here!!! Loving it ❤️

  6. Caroline ElizabethEdmonds says:

    I am receiving God’s kindness currently and asking God to lead me to repentance. I was having premarital sex with my boyfriend and by the grace of God we have decided to stop and repent so that we can develop our relationship through God rather than sin. God help me to listen, recognize, receive and repent my sins. Amen!

    1. Jamie Goodwin says:

      That’s so great! I applaud you both. My husband (then boyfriend) called me one day from college and said God told him we weren’t supposed to kiss anymore. Kissing was leading us to other things. Even though we didn’t have sex before marriage, we still struggled with our flesh. I reluctantly agreed and three years later we kissed for the “first time” on our wedding day :) stay strong and in His Word. I’m rooting for you both!

    2. Caroline G says:

      Praise God for both of you! :) He is so good.

  7. Emlyn Arden says:

    Lord, help me throw away my pride. Thank you for Your grace that we do not deserve.

  8. CF says:

    I have a question about this. This part of Romans seems to point out that doing works will earn favor with God. Are we not saved by faith alone? “12-13 If you sin without knowing what you’re doing, God takes that into account. But if you sin knowing full well what you’re doing, that’s a different story entirely. Merely hearing God’s law is a waste of your time if you don’t do what he commands. Doing, not hearing, is what makes the difference with God.”

    What law are they referring to then – because I thought Jesus work on the cross negated the old Jewish law?

    1. Beth McCormick says:

      You’re right, Jesus work on the cross fulfilled a law for us. I️ think the purpose of these two chapters is to show us that no one can attain to righteousness by the law. Later in Romans Paul will explain more. I️ think in Chapter 3

    2. GC says:

      Because of the work that Jesus did on the cross, we are to repent of our sin. His grace has forgiven us and has covered all of our sin, but that doesn’t mean that we can continue to live in sin because God always forgives. We can’t exploit grace like that. Look at Romans 6:1-4. We strive to live in a Christ-like way, which means turning away from our old and wicked ways towards the way of the Lord. Salvation is for good works, not by good works (Ephesians 2:10). Hopefully this is a little bit helpful!

    3. Kate Joyner says:

      I think that this is also pointing to the fact that faith looks like something. Yes we are not saved by our works but our works our evidence of our salvation. The fruit of the Spirit… ❤️

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