Scripture Reading:  Romans 2:1-5

“Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges.  For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.”  (Romans 2:1)

Most Bible commentators agree that Paul is focusing on the sins of the Jews in this second chapter.  The first chapter primarily focuses on the sins of the Gentiles.  However, there is application in both chapters for all of us.  The first matter Paul addresses in the second chapter is the judgmental attitude of the Jews toward the Gentiles.

From my experience in ministry, most often this judgmental spirit flows from people who are self-righteous.  Self-righteous people are often moralists who feel superior to others because of their own efforts to be good, moral people.  Such people make great effort to present themselves as good and honorable.  They look down on others who do not meet their standards.  They are quick to find fault in other people and they take pride in their own morality.  Religious moralists are proud of their religious traditions and practices.  They think their good deeds and religious efforts will earn them favor with God.

Perhaps the best biblical illustration of a self-righteous moralist is found in Jesus parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14).  The parable begins with these word of Luke — “He (Jesus) also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and treated others with contempt” (Luke 18:9).  The attitude of the self-righteous moralist is found in the Pharisee’s prayer — “God, I thank You that I am not like other men, extortionists, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all I get” (Luke 18:11,12).

This self-righteous Pharisee began to judge the tax collector and prided himself in his own moral and religious actions.  The contrast is great between the Pharisee and the tax collector.  Listen to the simple prayer of the tax collector — “God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13).  We must remember that we are all unworthy sinners.  Jesus said these words at the conclusion of the parable — “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:14b).

God, be merciful to me, a sinner.  I confess that I often become like the self-righteous Pharisee.  I look down my spiritual nose at others and take pride in my religion and morality.  Please forgive me when I do these things.  Thank You, Jesus, that You died for the sin of my self-righteousness along with all my other sins.  Enable me to remember how desperate I am for Your mercy and grace.


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