Do you consider yourself to be a good judge? Are you the one who picks out the apples at the grocery store? Do you make good judgments? How to make good judgments and good decisions is a skill. When we make assessments we have a standard we go by. We create this standard ourselves rather than going by the standard of the Gospel. If we use our own standard we can hinder the Gospel. There was a great controversy in the early church, a battle in their society. We do not have this struggle today. The new believers, many of them came out of Judaism and they wanted to continue following the food laws of the Old Testament. Other believers from a pagan background were not keeping these laws. Do we have to follow old Jewish customs was the question. This was a serious struggle for them! They were essentially fighting over BACON! This wasn’t turkey bacon! It was pork bacon. Do you have to give up bacon to be a Christian? This was serious! It was a theological battle. This church was dividing. We are not in this battle today but it’s easy for us to make issues over non-essential preferences. Romans 14 is about how we look at other people. Are we looking at other people based on the Gospel or is there an artificial standard?
Our preferences can cause us to judge.
Being judgmental is not a spiritual gift.
What we think about people and how we treat people matters.
Why do you pass judgment on your brother?
Romans 14:10 (ESV)
This is a message to the church, to those in Christ. The danger is that we will divide among ourselves. Among Christians we develop decisions that put people into categories. We begin to avoid one another. We break into groups and we hinder the Gospel. Why? Children don’t even know why they did something if we ask them. They just know they did it. Why do we pass judgement? Why do we do this?
We do this for these 3 reasons:
1. We do it so we will feel better about ourselves when we bring someone else down.
2. We have a critical nature. This is a painful observation about ourselves. This even irritates us that we know we are like this.
3. It’s a habit we have formed. This habit is shared with one of our friends.
Here’s what we do in this godly work. We meet together and we critique other people. It’s a difficult habit to break. By nature we critique the pastor’s sermon. It’s in our normal pattern of life. It’s in our routine. Paul is using scripture to address this. It’s essential that the church be a place where everyone is evaluated. We are self-destructive in our own lives. The Gospel hangs in the balance. A church that has a critical nature has difficulty sharing the Gospel. Think about those moments when you have been critical. Is that when you can share the Gospel? This is a gut-check-deep-heart issue.
Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls.
Romans 14:4 (ESV)
The context here is someone who has servants under them. This doesn’t connect well with us today, so imagine you’re a student. You took a test and the teacher asked for the tests to be passed forward. Another student takes your test and begins to critique it. You’re thinking, “You’re not the teacher!” We’d all be offended. Why do we think we have the right to judge people? God is the one who assesses our heart and life.
God will judge each one of us.
For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” 12So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Romans 14:10-12 (ESV)
Paul is speaking to believers here, those who have given their lives to Christ. We will stand before the judgement seat of Christ. We are responsible for how we treat others. The atmosphere here is that of a courtroom. The judge is on the bench, defendants are before the judge. This presents an unusual situation. We are making ourselves the judge. We are on the wrong side of the bench! We are taking God’s place when we pass judgement on another believer. All of us will give an account of the fact that we judge other people. One day we will stand before God and we will be asked why we put ourselves in that position. The absurdity of this is we have no power to say anything. In the times we have been in critical mode, think about how much our criticism has foxed another person?
For example, when you’re watching a sporting event and a bad call is made by a referee and you’re yelling at the TV. How many times have they changed their call because they heard what you said yelling through the TV? This isn’t effective. It’s a waste of time and is destructive to the Gospel. Sometimes we are right but it’s not our place. We might be right about something but then we are wrong in our actions. We think the other person needs help. Our tendency is to go to a critical place.
Consider how you can help others grow.
So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.
Romans 14:13 (NLT)
“Condemn” means to put something in someone’s path to cause their downfall. Jesus spoke about and warned us about causing others to stumble. There’s a play on words here. Instead of pushing others down, he calls us to make a judgment and decide to live differently. “Let us” means Paul includes himself. When we feel things come up let’s decide to live in a way that builds someone up.
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.
Hebrews 10:24 (NLT)
people we want to be. How can you make a difference in someone’s life? We need times when people look at us and say they see things we are doing well. Will you commit to do this for others?
Sermon Notes are taken, transcribed and posted by Jeni Martin Johnson.