7 April 2016

Romans 2:1-11

“Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things … God shows no partiality.” (vv. 1, 11)

Psalm: Psalm 67


When I first studied theology at university I did so as a trained scientist. I thought I knew plenty, but all of this subject was new to me. I struggled to make sense of it as I prepared for ministry. I found that translating doctrine into verse helped me to work out what it meant. When I was writing hymns for the lectionary the same process came into play. The core of this passage seems to be, take care how you judge others for you are also judged. But it says more. Failure to take care has consequences. We meet wrath head on - not God's anger, but the consequences of our actions built into the world as it is. Wrath is not partial and neither is God. God deals with us all equally, Jews or Greeks - shorthand for those of any faith or none. 

1       God shows no partiality 
          to favour rich or poor;
          God sees beyond pretentiousness 
          and looks right to the core 
          where every heart is open wide,
          and each desire known, 
          where platitudes are stripped away 
          and motives clearly shown. 
2       God plumbs the depths of fault or fear, 
          knows catastrophic loss, 
          then reaches to each present need 
          and understands each cross. 
          There is no hurt that is not felt, 
          no harm beyond God's care, 
          no darkness light cannot erase, 
          no pain God will not share.
3       Then from the depth of present faith, 
          this is the hope we trace, 
          and this the grace we seek to share 
          within this time and place; 
          to show no partiality, 
          not favour rich nor poor, 
          but offer here a place of love, 
          an ever open door.

© Stainer & Bell Ltd reproduced by permission of Stainer & Bell Ltd

Of course this goes a bit further than this brief passage from Romans. I've always felt that understanding Scripture is one thing, applying it in our lives is altogether another. As God is, Christ acts. We who count as disciples should also seek to act.

To Ponder

  • What stops us from being impartial in our judgements of one another?
  • What tools can we use to help us better understand Scripture passages?

Bible notes author

The Revd Andrew Pratt

Andrew is a Methodist supernumerary presbyter, Honorary Research Fellow at Luther King House, Manchester, and author. He has written over 1,300 hymns.