The renowned Bible teacher, Dr. John Phillips, with his usual expository artistry, outlines Romans 14:1-15:7 as Accepting a Weak Brother (14:1-9); Accusing a Weak Brother (14:10-13); and Accommodating a Weak Brother (14:14-23).
Out of our mercy in Christ we should be ministering to our weaker brothers and sisters in Christ, but this is often not the case. The heart of this issue is found in Romans 14:10: But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
The Apostle Paul writes that there are two responses that we should NOT have concerning a weaker brother, judging and setting at nought. The first is more of an outward act, while the second is more of an inner attitude. Paul states that our response to our weaker brother will come back upon us at the Judgment Seat of Christ! So what does the apostle have in mind?
Our judgmental response reveals our true state of carnality. Who are we that we should judge another? To do so, reveals more of us than our weaker brother! Our response demonstrates our blatant carnality! To judge another in reality reveals that we are weaker than our weak brother! We are still carnal! We are the weak one!
And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Romans 2:3
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5
As we stood in front of the mirror this morning, did we see the reflection of a hypocrite starring back at us?
Our judgmental response reveals our desire to usurp Christ’s rightful place as Judge. Do we dare run the risk of endangering ourselves at the Judgment Seat of Christ, by placing ourselves in the seat of Christ, Who alone has the rightful position to judge another?
For the Father judges no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son. John 5:22
How bold we must be to think that we can sit in Christ’s seat and pass judgment upon another! This response in our heart is near blasphemous! Was there ever a time in our life when God the Father saw our superiority to His Son, Jesus, and told us that we should be the ones sitting in His seat instead?
Our judgmental response reveals how we will be judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ! Jesus stated in Matthew 7:2: For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. Do we not fear the Judgment Seat of Christ? Do we want to be judged by Jesus Christ or by our own critical standard toward others? Jesus issued this stern warning often as He watched those around Him finding fault in others. Fault-finding was the very nature of a Pharisee:
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. Luke 18:11
But of course, we do not see ourselves in our response as a Pharisee or a hypocrite! We are not like other men. We are superior! Or so we secretly think.
But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. Matthew 12:36
Our judgmental response reveals our lack of being teachable. To get down to this judgmental position, we must first resist or reject clear teachings of the Scriptures:
Judge not that ye be not judged. Matthew 7:1
Judge not, and ye shall not be judged, condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned; forgive, and ye shall be forgiven. Luke 6:37
Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. John 7:24
Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. Romans 14:13
Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. James 4:11
Over and over again we are warned not to respond in judgment, and yet we persist in passing our harsh judgment upon others! Does this not reveal our lack of being teachable and a certain hardening to the Word of God?
Our judgmental response yields a whole list of people, victims whom we have condemned as beneath us! We have been deceived that in order for us to be spiritual, we must make others appear carnal. No doubt the current person we are tempted to judge is not the first! Will we allow the Spirit of God to replay in our conscience the list of others who have been victimized by our judgmental actions?
Consider Paul’s warning of the inner attitude of setting at nought another person. His phrase means to despise, to find contemptible, to make of no account! How callous is our heart that we do not detect an attitude of contempt toward our brother! Are we so insensitive that we do not feel our loathing of that weaker brother? Can we not see our hardened heart viewing another as someone who is of no account? Do we dare make him a nobody in our eyes?
How can we claim to be a strong Christian, or even a Christian, with such actions and attitudes? Has Christ not forgiven us of much worse than that which we so quickly pass judgment against our weaker brother? Do we even now see ourselves better than others? Is not pride again seeking to run our lives?
So now when we pray in all our holiness and cannot pray a prayer of forgiveness, do we not realize that our attitude has just passed sentence upon us?
And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. Mark 11:25
For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14,15
Lessons to be learned as God’s Spirit speaks to our lofty opinion of ourselves:
We should not confuse legalism with holiness. This confusion is easily made in our rush toward holiness through a keeping of certain rules and external conformities. We need to remind ourselves of the anonymous quote: In things essential, unity; In things secondary, liberty; and In all things, charity.
We should not confuse doctrine with truth. We may possess a system of teachings by which we with tunnel vision judge others. But is our narrow vision so narrow as to include only me? The Pharisees had a narrow system of teaching and Jesus did not fit within that system, so instead of rejecting their system and embracing Jesus, they rejected Jesus and kept their system.
May you enjoy the grace of the Lord as we have in confessing our past judgement toward others! And may we all be more alert to avoid the trap of judging others!