Romans

February 16, 2020


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Don’t Judge Me

Over the last couple of weeks Tanya and I have watched all four seasons of “The Good Place”. “Hey, don’t judge me!” It is a show that explores the traditional concept of Heaven and Hell. It is fascinating that a show on NBC has the grits to challenge the theological concept of the after-life. I loved it. “Again, don’t judge me.”

That is what I want to talk about this morning. Not “The Good Place”, but the phrase, “Don’t judge me.” We hear it frequently in our culture. It usually means something like… 

--I don’t want you to lower your opinion of me because of what I am doing.

--I don’t want you to write me off as your friend because of my poor behavior.

--I don’t want to hear your criticism of what I am doing.

“Don’t judge me” is a defensive mechanism when someone is about to criticize you, typically in the form of “advice”. 

This morning, I want to explore this idea of “Don’t judge me”. Because, it is Paul’s second solution to the problem of church fellowship.

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In my last sermon, we looked a Paul’s first solution to church fellowship… “Live and let Die.”

The church in Rome in 57 AD had problem. The Jews were back, along with all their baggage. They couldn’t just be Christians. They had to be “Jewish” followers of their Messiah. They wanted to worship on the Sabbath. They didn’t want to eat anything good. They brought all their Jewish baggage back into the church. It was a problem… for the Gentile Christians. 

In Romans 14 Paul rejects the easy solution; which is our solution. Just have different kinds of Christians churches. Have Jewish style church. Have a Greek church. Have a Latin church. Why not have a slave church or a wealthy church? A variety of churches is our easy solution. But Paul rejects this solution. Paul wants true fellowship. Paul wants genuine harmony. Paul wants real connection within the church in Rome. 

So, Paul has several solutions to the church fellowship problem. 

Paul’s first solution is… Live and Let Die.

-Live and Let Die offers welcome. There should be genuine acceptance a welcome mat on the front door of the house churches. 

-Live and Let Die does not have win arguments. If you have to win every argument, there can be no fellowship with the other. 

-Live and Let Die does not despise the other. There is no framing the others as idiots, maniacs or enemies. 

-Live and Let Die knows who’s the Master. Jesus is the one who makes his servants stand. 

-Live and Let Die honors the LORD. Whether in denial of a freedom or the expressing of a liberty in Christ, both the weak and strong do what they do to honor the LORD!

Where the rubber met the road in my last sermon was… Identify a place where you might be, either, weak or strong and apply the Live and Let Die principle. Anyone have an opportunity to do their assignment?

Live and Let Die is Paul’s first solution. 

This morning, we are going to explore Paul’s second solution…

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Romans 14:4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

Paul is reprimanding the Gentiles for judging those knuckleheaded, baggage-carrying, law-insisting Jews! And, also Paul is telling the Jews not to judge those nothing-matters, loosie-goosy, law-rejecting Gentiles. They were judging each other. That is a big problem for fellowship. 

It is important to understand what Paul means by judging.  First, what Paul does not mean by judging.

--Judging can’t mean they are to ignore each other. Paul has already told them to “welcome” each other! Ignoring is judging. 

--Judging can’t mean they are to have no opinions about each other. Paul writes the whole letter explaining God’s inclusion of the Jew first and also the Greek. He wants them to understand. Having no opinions is not what Paul is talking about. 

--Judging can’t mean leave it all to Jesus. It is important how they are to interact with each other. That’s the point of Romans. It is not, “Forget it. I don’t care.”

--Judging can’t mean not to help, teach, encourage, or even, correct each other. That certainly can’t be right. If that were the case our easy solution of a variety of churches would be fine.  Just go your separate ways and don’t judge. “Don’t judge me… I can do what I want. I’m going to church over there.” That is not Paul’s solution to church fellowship

Paul wants welcome. Paul wants connection. Paul wants fellowship. Paul wants acceptance. But not judging.

“Wait a second, Paul. That sounds schizophrenic. Does he want us to ignore each other or welcome each other?”  Yes!

Let’s explore what Paul actually does means by judging, as we look at his second solution to church fellowship. 

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Romans 14:4-13 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.  One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.  For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.  If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. 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. Therefore, let us not pass judgment on one another any longer,

What does Paul mean by judging? Let’s dig into these verses. 

1) Judging is assigning relationship with the Lord.

Krino is the Greek word for “pass judgment”. Krino has the flavor of… condemning, concluding, determining, giving a verdict, pronouncing, assigning. It is determining if the other is right with the LORD. 

Romans 14:4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

Paul solution for harmony involved them/us not assigning relationship with the Master. 

--“They can’t possibly love the LORD!”

--"Jesus will never accept that behavior!” 

--"They don’t serve the same LORD I do!” 

It is wrong to assign who is standing or failing with the LORD. It is not our job to determine who is standing with or failing the Lord. It’s the Master’s job to determine his relationship with his servants. Because Jesus is the risen Lord, He is Judge!

It is wrong to assign relationship with the LORD. 

2) Judging is withholding help. 

It is more than writing someone off. Judging decides not to help; not to engage; not to fellowship. “You are not worth helping.”

Romans 14:7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.

One of our jobs, in the church, is the sanctification of each other. Church is the crucible of sanctification. Church is all about being with people who you would otherwise never associate with. Paul knows the value of being with people who are different. It is in our differences that we learn to love; in-spite-of. It is in being with “annoying” people where we learn to love; genuinely. It is in rubbing together that we grow. Which I might point out is one of the main points of the TV show “The Good Place”.

To withhold our help, our guidance, our correction… is wrong. We live in freedom for each other. We die in sacrifice for each other. The interaction of disagreement is healthy; is necessary; is sanctification. 

It is wrong to withhold help from each other. 

3) Judging is despising.

Romans 14:10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother?

YLT Romans 14:10 And thou, why dost thou judge thy brother? or again, thou, why dost thou set at nought thy brother?

Despise is devaluing the other. Despise is setting as nothing. Despise is internally, saying to ourselves, that person is worthless. Because that person disagrees with me, they are worthless idiots. 

Let me get personal. Judging is internal gossip. Most of us have a voice in our head that keeps an internal dialogue running. This internal voice is keeping a running score of what others are doing to us or for us. There is a value-assessment of others going on with our internal voice. 

--“That was nice. I like this person.”  Their score goes up.

--"That was hateful.” They lost points with me.

--"That person is worthless. Stay away from that person, they might hurt you. Write them off!” 

When we internally despise a brother or sister we are judging. 

It is wrong to set others to nought. 

4) Judging is going to be judged. 

Here is the scary part of the sermon.

Romans 14:10-13 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. Therefore, let us not pass judgment on one another any longer,

We will give an account of our judgmental actions toward our fellow Christians! Several times in Scripture it teaches that we, as Christians, are going to appear before a judgment seat to give an account for our actions. I don’t know all what that means. I don’t think it means we will be lost to hell for eternity because of it. But there is going to be an accounting. Paul says, here in Romans 14:13, that there will be an accounting based upon how judgmental we were on fellow Christians.

This judgment will be based upon…

1) Assigning lack of relationship with the Lord.

2) Withholding our help from our siblings in Christ. 

3) Despising; devaluing, writing off other Christians. 

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Jesus says the same thing…

Matthew 7:1-5 "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.”

This attitude of judging, assigning relationship, withholding help, devaluing the other… keeps us from fellowship. It is crucial that we do help each other with our theology; with our attitudes; with our behavior. But we cannot do that with while judging each other.  

Let’s boil this down to a simple memorable phrase.  

Paul’s solutions to church fellowship…

Solution 1 - Live and Let Die

Solution 2 - Nudge, Don’t Judge. “Don’t judge my nudge!” 

We are to nudge each other, gently, to do right while not assigning relationship with the LORD or withholding help or devaluing each other.

Nudge! Don’t Judge.

On our banner it would be nice if it said, “Nudge! Don’t Judge”. Instead, it says, more generically, “Use Kind Words.”  I’m going to add… internally!

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Rubber meets the road… watch “The Good Place” all 52 episodes. Just kidding. 

The real rubber meets the road is going to be hard, I suspect for me/you. Pick someone you are around this week. Every time you are internally judging their performance, say to yourself, in your head… “Nudge. Don’t Judge”. Pick a person. Don’t tell them you picked them. Whenever you catch yourself with an internal dialogue judging them. Stop and say to that voice in your head, “Nudge. Don’t Judge”.

I’ll check next week on how painful this is. 

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Romans 15:5-7 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.


Tim Stidham

Los Alamos Church of Christ 

February 16, 2019