The Folly of Comparison


We live in a world of constant comparisons. We compare education, jobs, portfolios, houses, children. Sometimes we even attempt to make moral comparisons in an effort to elevate ourselves above what we believe to be the average moral standard. The Romans to whom Paul was writing must have had the same tendencies. While Paul spent the second half of chapter one addressing the obvious sinner, he opens chapter two by speaking directly to the people who are sinning in a slightly less blatant way. 

  • Be honest. Do you ever find yourself thinking, “Well, at least I’m not as bad as that guy”?


2:1 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. 2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3 Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

6 He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. What word—in some form—is repeated six times in the first three verses?
  2. Knowing that these verses are written to the moralistic believers in Rome, what does the repetition imply about those who judge the more obvious sins listed in chapter one?
  3. What does verse 4 say is the purpose of God’s kindness and patience toward all sinners?
  4. What is the fate of those who have a judgmental, unrepentant heart (vs. 5)?
  5. Paul lists the long-term consequences of comparing sins, but how do such comparisons also hinder our day-to-day relationship with the Lord and with others?


The standard for righteousness in God’s eyes is perfection. Anything less falls short. So, when we compare ourselves to others—inside or outside of the church—in a subconscious effort to make ourselves feel superior, we are actually “presuming on the riches of [God’s] kindness.” We all deserve wrath because we cannot measure up to the standard, no matter how many sinful people we compare ourselves to. Sixteenth-century theologian Matthew Henry wrote that “the branches of man’s disobedience are various, but all spring from the same root.” We all fall short. We all deserve God’s judgment. So, we all must depend on the perfect blood of Jesus for redemption.

  • Thank God that he sent his perfect son to die for all sin.
  • Pray that God would help you see if you are sinning by passing judgment on a fellow sinner. Pray for a softened, penitent heart.