Romans 14:10-12 talks about the judgment seat of Christ. This term “judgment seat” is not a term that we use too often in America. To get the proper picture, we need to see what a judgment seat was in ancient Roman culture. Here the Greek word “bema” is used as well as 1 Corinthians 3 and 2 Corinthians 5, as a place of judgment that only Christians will go, this is not the “final judgment” that nonbelievers will face, so this passage is dealing with judging believers. A judgment seat is literally what it sounds like– a seat where a judge or a ruler sits and passes judgment. When someone came before a judgment seat, there wasn’t really any way that they themselves determined their own fate. Their fate was determined by the one in the seat.
Paul writes here in Romans 14 that one day we will each stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Now, don’t forget what Romans 8:1 said, “there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ,” so this is not a judgment seat that ends with you being cast into hell for your desperate wickedness. Rather this is a judgment seat that determines your motives and your actions based upon that which Romans 14 talks. Did you try to harass your brothers or sisters in Christ and breed disunity by telling them that you were more holy because you had tighter or looser standards? Paul says, “Christ is the judge, get out of His seat.” Rather, instead of putting yourself in the judgment seat, realize that you will be judged by Jesus, and then rather judge yourself (v.13) and make sure that all that you do is not becoming a “stumbling block” to the brothers and sisters around you.
So do we ever judge those around us? In our modern context using the word “judge” seems like a horrible thing. However, not all judgments are bad judgments. For example, this morning, you judged that the decision to ride inside the car was better than to ride under the car. This was a wise judgment and resulted in you reaching your destination unscathed. Similarly, there are wise judgments. There are right judgments. Seeing sin and abstaining from it is wise. It is ok to “judge” that what someone else is doing is wrong or sinful, as long as you understand clearly from scripture that it is wrong. That type of judgment is not wrong.
The type of judgment that is most often used (and wrongly so) is the type that judges without all of the facts. This would include judging others motives, judging based solely upon feeling or emotion, or judging in areas of preference where scripture does not mandate a direct desire of God. These judgments are the faulty “judging.” This type of judgment is reserved to God. He determines what is right and wrong, what is sinful and what is not. Now, make sure you don’t ever try to take His seat.
Food for Thought: Read Romans 14:9-15. What is a judgment seat? Who is the only person whose motives we should judge?