Thursday, January 13, 2011

Glory and Honor and Peace from God for All who Do Good

Rom. 2:1-11 NLT  
   1 You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things. 2 And we know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things. 3 Since you judge others for doing these things, why do you think you can avoid God’s judgment when you do the same things? 4 Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? 
   5 But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 He will judge everyone according to what they have done. 7 He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. 8 But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness. 9 There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. 10 But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.

Yesterday, in studying the previous chapter, we might have been tempted to cheer because "they" were singled out for their evil natures, showing us to be set apart. But Paul has caught us in a trap that all believers struggle to avoid-- the trap of spiritual pride. Like the early Romans, whose lives and natures Christ had changed, Paul writes to us, recognizing the likelihood that we are beginning to think in condemning ways about those described in verses 27-31 of chapter One. He brings us up short with the opening line "You may think you can condemn such people. . ." Well, yes, I was rather thinking they sort of deserved to go to Hell for all that terrible stuff they do.  Then, the trap door slams shut with the words "but you are just as bad!" Am I? Yes I am! I used to be just like them, I must never forget that!

God has NOT called us to condemn others. They will condemn themselves through their actions and their refusal to obey God and accept His provision for eternal life. They are already condemned and are not in need of us pointing it out over and over again. They need to hear words of life from us. When we condemn others, we step outside God's will, and usurp something that is reserved for God alone. Therefore when we condemn others, we disobey God-- we sin. We are just as bad as those 'haters of God' (1:30). 

Since we have profited from God's wonderful kindness and tolerant patience, then we must show the same kindness to 'them,' whoever "them" is in our lives. If we hang on to unkind and judgmental attitudes then we risk being described by Romans 2:5-- "storing up terrible punishment for yourself." If we claim we are Christians but continue to live for our selves-- according to our own personal preferences, then we only fool ourselves in our claim to purity-- we do not fool God. Our actions betray us. Yet, if we are willing to yield our self-will to God and accept what comes our way according to His plans for us, then He will make it possible for us to do the good things that make differences in the lives of others. He will do good things in and through us that bless others. Then God's "glory, honor, and peace" will become ours because He is doing good things through us. Ready for that today? Ask!

Your servant

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