There is an old hymn that says “The ground is level at the foot of the cross.” This lyric is a great summary of what Paul sets forth in Romans 2. He is writing to a mixed audience of Jews and Gentiles and to them he says there is no partiality on the part of God. Jews do not get a pass on judgment day because of their covenant relationship with God, and the Gentiles don’t get a pass on judgment day because of their lack of having the written law of God. In other words, we are all going to be held accountable to God for our faith, or lack thereof, in Jesus.
This chapter also serves as a call to self-examination and reflection. Paul is calling these people who claim to follow God to examine their own lives before they pass judgment on others. This is a good reminder for us to be evaluating our lives by the Scripture and making sure that we ourselves are not trusting in our own merits for salvation. Do we have our own checklists of “dos and don’ts” that we take pleasure in when we’re checking off the list? Do we tend to pass judgment on others who break our lists of rules? To those of us who do this, Paul is saying look at the cross where the ground is level. We all need Jesus and his righteousness. We bring nothing.