For the past two years, I have had a “mantra,” if you will, during my prayer time with God: “LORD, You are GOOD! And Your MERCY endures forever.” Amen! As we continue into Romans 2, I pray that you feel to the depths the goodness and mercy of your Heavenly Father. Please read Romans 2:1-4.
I don’t know if this is statistically correct, but it seems to me that most of the people I know who are unchurched or dechurched avoid Christianity because of the judgments of those who claim to be Christians. Do you think that’s a somewhat accurate statement? Do you know someone, or multiple people, who avoid churches because of the judgment they have experiences at the hands of “loving Christians?” I mentioned in my previous post that a dear friend of mine avoided church because his son was kicked out due to practicing homosexuality. I am NOT getting into the homosexuality debate today, I am simply using it as a very relevant example of judgment in the church driving people away from God instead of loving them to His wonderful face. When you think of the people in your life who turned from church because of similar stories, does it make you sad to the depths of your soul? It absolutely breaks my heart. It is the very people who need God the most that we Christians most often turn away due to our judgmental nature. We all have it. Don’t act like you don’t!! Romans 2:1 says, “You have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges.” I know I am guilty – so often, my first thoughts are judgmental in nature – and this from a single mother at 16 with many years living in rebellion. We each have it in us to be judgmental towards others, simply because their sins are different than ours. That is why this message from Romans is so incredibly important and relevant.
I am so struck by 2:1b-3:
“For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 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?”
Let me reiterate that last bit: Do you suppose, O man… that you will escape the judgment of God? I am reminded of John 8:7 when Jesus tells the Pharisees, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Which one of us can look at God on the day of our judgment and cast blame upon someone else? Is it not only because of Christ alone, that we will even be able to face him?! We cannot cast blame or judgment because we are sinners to the depth of our humanity. Even in the transforming relationship with Christ, we sin and err, we fall off the path, we miss chances to bring glory to our Savior. When we think evil thoughts and judge others Ephesians 2:12 tells us to “remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”
When we remember ourselves before the redemption found in Christ, it fills us with thankfulness and humility. It is impossible to judge others when you see through the lens of your own filth. When I remember my ugliness, I can do nothing but feel incredible compassion for those that have yet to sit at God’s table; I yearn to invite them to the feast and take them to the One and Only God who can raise them from their dead lives. Next time you find yourself judging someone, remember the words in Eph 2:12 and give yourself over to the humility and compassion that comes with remembering the depths from which God pulled you.
I love this next part in Romans 2:4:
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?
I just love Paul – he is so “in your face” sometimes 🙂 Like, “maybe you just think you are entitled to the gifts God bestows upon you?!” Uh-Uh! No. Paul teaches us that God gives us kindness, forbearance, and patience, so that His mercy will lead to repentance. Did you get that?!?!
God meets us where we are – yes, even and especially in our sin. He covers us in the pit with his abundant grace and mercy, knowing that it will guide us into repentance. God can do whatever He wants to do, but according to His incredible love and kindness, He allows us to join and be part of His plan so that we may reap the blessings that come with doing work for God. He desires that we, as Christians, will love people to Him; we would be so welcoming, so kind, so patient, that those mired in sin would feel God’s love raining upon them and be overwhelmed with desire to know Him. It is our job to love people to God – it is God’s job to love them into repentance.
We do not love people to God by throwing their sin in their faces; we do it with compassion, empathy, kindness, and love. You will NEVER get someone to turn to Christ by listing their shortcomings; instead, remember all your shortcomings before Christ was Lord over your life, and see them as a child of God, whom He loves as desperately as He does you.