You talkin' to me?

Romans 2:1-11 (NKJV)

Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.

What? Paul just finished blasting idolatrous unbelievers, but now it seems he’s turning the guns on us. Is he really saying what it sounds like he’s saying?

Absolutely, and this illustrates one of the keys to studying the Bible. When you’re troubled or confused by a passage, the one thing you must not do is blow it off or try to water it down, though your immediate reaction may be to do exactly that.

That’s why so many people try to explain away difficult passages. Few people are interested in doing the hard work it takes to come to grips with tough subjects like this one.  Even fewer folks want to live by what these passages teach. That’s what makes them tough in the first place.

And this passage isn’t alone in its message. We’ve all prayed the words, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Do we really want to ask for forgiveness on those terms? Have we ever thought about what that means? Are we paying attention?

We’re not going to get through this in one day; the next lesson will have the same reading.

There are three takeaways to consider. We’re not supposed to judge (whatever that means); we’re guilty of the same things; and judging others “despises” the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering.

These all connect.

When Paul says, “for you who judge practice the same things,” he doesn’t mean everyone’s sins are the same. Everyone is guilty of sin, but we have different sins. They’re not all equally bad either.

But sin blinds us to the severity of our sins. We tend to judge ourselves charitably and others harshly. We see our sins as minor and the ones we’re less prone to as the bad ones.

Ask God to show you how your minor sins aren’t so minor.

All the weekly study guides, which include all five devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.