Summary: This sermon seeks to encourage an honest look at oneself in light of the judgment you pass on others; for when you criticize negative traits in others you are revealing the things which you dislike in yourself.
In his introduction to this passage, Greg Herrick relates someone has once joked that the definition of a jury is: “twelve people chosen to decide who has the best lawyer.” And with the current state of law suits in America, it’s no wonder that people are skeptical about truth and justice in our law courts. In fact, with O.J. Simpson back in the courts it reminds us again that the problem with justice is that it appears to be no longer admissible in our practice of law.
However, there is coming a day when things will be different – radically different. It’s a day Paul refers to when God will judge men. There’ll be no need for lawyers; God doesn’t need to listen to crooked defense strategies. There’ll be no need for remembering what actually happened; God is omniscient and omnipresent. He knows what happened better than we do; indeed He was there when the deeds were done. There’ll be no need to attempt to discern whether someone is actually telling the truth or not; again, God knows all things. In short, it‘ll be a perfect situation: a holy judge who cannot lie or sin, be bought off or corrupted in any way. He’ll have every detail and fact of the circumstances and His verdict will be just with no opportunity for appeal. Herein, “Judgment is Revealed.”
If only that were the case for us today – but there’s something else that’s revealed in our judgment of one another. Let’s take a closer look at the truth as “Judgment is Revealed” in Romans 2:1-5 . . . First of all,
I. Your Judgment Reveals Your Character verse 1
Jesus made it clear in the Sermon on the Mount at Matthew 7:1-2, “Judge not that you be not judged.” The Greek term “krino” means to divide, separate, make a distinction, come to a decision. In Romans 21, it’s to pass sentence on someone or give one’s opinion. It’s also a present participle, expressing continuous or repeated action. In Matthew it’s a present imperative, a command.
As a Christian you’re not to judge hypocritically or self-righteously. That’s why Jesus mentions looking at the speck in a brother’s eye or inspecting the fruit of a person’s life in verses 15ff. Evaluation is not the same as condemnation. Of course this warning had special relevance for Jews because they tended to look down on Gentiles. They did so because of the Gentiles ignorance of God’s revelation and their immoral lives. So, the Jews set themselves up as moralists to judge the Gentiles
But the application of truth here has to do with your judgment of others. Psychologically, it’s true that people tend to criticize in others those negative traits which they themselves are guilty of. In counseling this is called “projection.” Have you ever caught yourself criticizing someone for something? When you run down someone else’s character you’re revealing yours. The very thing you dislike in them is likely what you dislike in yourself. When I realized this spiritual truth it made a big impact on my critical spirit being healed. So realize that your judgment of others reveals your own character.
II. God’s Judgment is Revealed in the Present verses 2-4
The “you” in verse 3 is emphatic – you will not escape God’s judgment in the present. God is absolutely right in passing judgment on the wickedness of those described in the last half of Romans 1. So why would you think that you should escape God’s judgment of your resistance and rejection of His kindness and tolerance and patience? Kindness is God’s acts of benevolence on behalf of the sinner. Tolerance is God’s temporary suspension of punishment. Patience reminds me of what 2 Peter 3:9 says, “God is not slow in keeping His promise… He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish…”
When God’s judgment comes your way, God’s wrath is being revealed in the present as we talked about last week. However, instead of turning from their sinful ways people tend to resist God’s kindness. And as verse 5a indicates, your stubborn hearts are hardened. This reminds me of Pharoah in the book of Exodus turning his back on God and in turn having his heart hardened by God.
God’s judgment in the present is based on truth, it’s “utterly impartial” as Phillips puts it. It’s in accordance with the facts. However, the catch was the Jews were guilty of the same things, so they couldn’t escape God’s judgment. I’m reminded here of the encounter between King David and the prophet Nathan as recorded in 2 Samuel 12:1-14. David agreed that the rich man who killed the poor man’s pet lamb deserved to die. But having passed judgment on another David quickly learned from Nathan that he had judged himself. “Thou art the man” Nathan declared. You have taken the lamb, Bathsheba, of the poor man Uriah for your own pleasure. God’s judgment in the present is based on truth. It’s impartial and makes no distinctions between rich and poor, king and pauper. So my question is, are you showing contempt for the riches of God’s kindness, tolerance and patience towards you? Will you not repent, make an about face and trust God with your life and character, with your present and future? Because: