Daily Devotion - Monday, February 29, 2016

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. - Romans 2:1

I've had more than a few conversations in the past several months with people who have given up on church.  The common thread in all of those conversations was the role that the judgmental attitudes of Christians played in their decisions to walk away from church.  One of my friends who left church told me, "I just got so tired of having to pretend to be someone I wasn't."   

Far too many churches are not exactly the places you go when you need to bare your soul, share your scars, express your doubts, or (as in the case of my friend) simply be yourself.  Over the course of my life in the church, I've heard so many stories from so many people who were wounded by the judgement of Christians who condemned them.  

I've been on the receiving end of that kind of judgment, and it's not pleasant.  You would like to think that your church family would be the one place where you would receive grace and unconditional love.  But, unfortunately, churches are made up of people, and people are frail and flawed--all of us are frail and flawed.  Truth be told, not only have I been on the receiving end of judgment in church, I've also sadly judged others unfairly.  

In today's lectionary passage from Romans chapter 2, we see in the first verse the Apostle Paul's abrupt pivot from chapter 1.  In chapter 1 of Romans, Paul spends a lot of time and energy listing all kinds of sins, shortcomings, and other assorted things that people do to grieve the Spirit of God.  

I've heard more than my fair share of sermons from Romans chapter 1-sermons condemning people of all stripes.  I've also heard more than a few Christians quote from Romans chapter 1 when they justify their judgmental attitudes.  

But if you keep reading, you'll eventually hit chapter 2 verse 1, which is pretty straightforward:  "You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you are judging another, you are condemning yourself."  That verse lands on me pretty hard.  It's so easy and tempting to pass judgment, isn't it?  We all struggle with self-righteousness in one degree or another.  

If you want to be a follower of Jesus, though, you have to walk in His Way.  The Way of Jesus is paved with grace.  The Way of Jesus is covered in mercy.  The Way of Jesus is marked by Jesus himself who proclaimed, "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."  

May you speak grace and peace to everyone you meet--especially those who are wounded, broken, vulnerable and seeking mercy.  May you see your own frailty in the frailty of others and practice forbearance and forgiveness.  May you leave all judgment to Christ, who did not come to condemn, but to save.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.   


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