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. Chelsea says:

    I never really saw myself as a ‘judgmental person’ but I feel like it happens more unconsciously than I suspect. To combat such a sin I’ve asked God to make me more like him – that I will exercise kindness, restraint and patience and point them to Gods mercy and grace as I have been pointed to Gods mercy and grace which pronounces sinful people clean.
    Thank you Lord ❤️

    1. Evin Musgrove says:

      ❤️amen sis

  2. Hannah says:

    May God melt away my pride.

  3. Shari says:

    “The Holy Spirit does the convicting, which frees us to love and to speak the truth in love.”… Speaking God’s truth, in God-like love encourages our sisters to become even closer in relationship to Him, which is what we as disciples are called to do.

  4. aefornshell331 says:

    After reading your comments, I went back and re-read ch 1:18-32. I need God to point out when I judge others (and lead me to repentance) but also when I heap judgment on myself and don’t allow Gods forgiveness and grace to cover me. I read v24-25: lust of their hearts, exchanging the truth about God for a lie-worshiping and serving the creature rather than the creator. Oh Lord, my God, forgive me for striving to be perfect and then condemning myself when I fall short. Forgive me for serving myself and prioritizing accomplishing my to do list over spending quality time with you. My Savior, in these first 3 days your gospel has been breaking me down and my desire to share your gospel is growing. Father, lead us to listen and do good in your name.

    1. Pam says:

      Beautifully said!

    2. Ali says:

      Yes! Lord, please point out when I judge others or myself.

  5. Jody Welch says:

    I know I judge and try to catch myself when I do…ask for forgiveness… try to do better everyday

  6. Joyce says:

    Passing judgment on another, you condemn yourself!!! OUCH!!! God forgive me for I judge!!!

    1. Shari says:

      I think of the scripture ‘Lord, I believe, help my unbelief’ :)….and also “I think I can, I think I can” <3

  7. Renee says:

    For me this has been one of those reads where you know its all 100% true but you know you do it all the time. The part that has got me is v5 talks about ‘stubbornness in refusing to turn from your sin’ which I know is my pride and thinking I am better than other people simply because I am a Christian. Jesus help me get rid of my pride!

  8. Kelli says:

    I’m still working this passage through for sure. Romans is so very complex! So I’ll run the risk here of processing out loud to see what y’all think. I think it’s important to note that this section of Scripture begins with the word, “Therefore” which means that I had to look again at what Paul wrote in Chapter 1 so I had things in “context”. What stuck out to me was that God’s judgment on those who do such things is based on truth (v. 2). “Such things” would include all the things noted in Chapter 1 that amount to our (my) depraved human condition. But… if we don’t “judge” based on God’s truth (his prescription of how we are to live in this fallen world), I think I run the risk of being tolerant of things God says clearly are wrong. I look at today’s portion of Scripture as Paul warning us that if we don’t obey and follow God’s way, we are heaping wrath upon ourselves. Taking advantage of grace gives us sclerosis of the heart. There’s a LOT to this passage… more studying to do! I’m excited for what the Lord teaches us next in His Word.

    1. Penny says:

      I agree this passage requires a lot of processing and the context of ch1 is important because Paul has spent a lot of time in it talking of God’s coming wrath. That’s a really good point. I’m not quite sure I understand what you’ve said about judging based on God’s truth- if it is about judging yourself, I agree, but I don’t think this passage is talking about judging others- in fact the opposite? My take on it is that God will judge us all (V6) and that God doesn’t show favouritism (V11) and therefore we all deserve judgment. I think it is saying God’s kindness should lead us to repentance. (v4). We should have a new motivation for doing good, rather than judge others who don’t do good. And I guess as he gets into ch 3 Paul is going to further flesh out his argument regarding our desperate need for grace- Jew or gentile. Nice to engage with you here after the study!

    2. Kate says:

      Hi kelli,
      I agree with you that this needs to be taken into context and that Paul is stating that in love with pure motive we are to show clearly blatant deliberate sin in others brothers sisters in Christ lives. We are a body and a family and what affects one affect the other. If there is deliberate sin such as homosexuality or stealing lying gossiping that is in someone’s life I believe it’s clear that we have role to admonish each other and challenge each other with wisdom and help of Holy Spirit in love, so that sin can be gone from our lives.

      While also examining ourselves and our own hearts before the Lord to convict is of sin of equal importance . It breaks my heart how weak church and Christianity has become not wanting to stand on truth scripture and call sin in others peoples lives for fear of not wanting to judge. We are not to judge those who are not saved … but those who name the name of Christ have a testimony to uphold to world and we need spur each other on in love to uphold this as light to world.

    3. Kate Joyner says:

      Kelli I so agree! I see people read this passage and completely misunderstand what it is saying. God’s law is perfect whereas man made law is flawed. I also think it’s important to remember what type of judgement is being talked about here. We’re not talking about recognizing sin around us, this is talking about an arrogant, damning judgement passed by people. As sinners we have no place to condemn. That is God’s job. But we do have the pleasure of building each other up through “church discipline” (1 Corinthians 5). Context is everything!!

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