Lent Devotional: Romans 14:1-12

by Jonathan Haefs

Romans 14:1-12 (click here)
Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. (Romans 14:10-12)

We are not to pass judgment on one another.

This principle and texts like Romans 14 suffer from much abuse. People us them to say all sorts of things the text doesn’t say at all!

For instance, this text is not saying that we are never to hold each other accountable. It’s not saying that we don’t call one another to repentance or practice church discipline. It’s not saying that we don’t talk about, even debate, our disagreements sometimes.

So what is it saying?

All of the things I just mentioned are motivated by love. We hold each other accountable, call one another to repentance, and discuss our disagreements out of love for one another and out of a desire to help each other grow towards Christ.

The “judging” being forbidden in Romans 14 is not motivated by love, but by condemnation. It comes from despising someone and what they think or do. There is no desire for redemption… just condemnation. There is no desire for repentance… just punishment. There is no desire for their good… just shame.

We never have the right to condemn a brother or sister in Christ, because we are not the judge with them needing to plead their case to us. No. We are actually in the same position as they are…we all have one final, ultimate judge…God! We will all give an account to God.

No one has the right to judge except the one who is the judge…The Lord. The good news of the Gospel is that even though we deserve the righteous wrath of God the judge… he has taken that wrath upon himself so that he might not show us just condemnation, but gracious salvation through Jesus.

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” John 3:17-18

*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.