|In the opening chapter of Romans, the apostle Paul accused humanity of turning from God. Many have done awful things which led them away from the Creator. There was no excuse, Paul says. It was their choice. In their thinking, worship and relationships, they exchanged the truth about God for a lie.
After such an accusation, you would think it’d be okay to think the worst of anyone who has done such a thing. To be sure, Paul first acknowledged the power of faith to reveal God to us all. To live by faith is true righteousness.
But Paul doesn’t allow for the Romans to pass judgment on anyone who has turned away. There’s no good excuse for you to try. When you pass judgment you end up like the people you’re judging.
That’s a strange thought. How can Paul suggest we’re as unfaithful as anyone else?
He does acknowledge not everyone is hard of heart. God will repay the deeds of all people. That includes those “who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality.” God will give them eternal life. The trouble seems to be when those who do good feel the need to put others in their place.
That runs counter to the grace we have experienced in Christ Jesus. It isn’t up to us to decide who is worthy of eternal life. No good work of yours has earned the gift you so easily dangle in front of others. That’s what we need to reflect on so much more.
The good we do is in response to God’s great love. Did you decide to help lead your church’s worship? Have you been showing up to help clean up your church’s facilities. It’s great you’re volunteering at the local shelter or food bank. We understand those desires to do good come from God. Not ourselves.
God inspires the body of Christ to action. The Spirit moves us to go beyond our comfort levels to serve in ways we’re not used to.
There was something I heard the first time I served a Kairos prison ministry team. A leader reminded us all the difference between us and the men we were preparing to serve. For many of us, the difference was the inmates got caught.
That was a Romans 2 moment for me.
We forget how much God has forgiven in us. Even how much we may have gotten away with. At the same time, we can’t help but recognize how much more other people need to get right with Jesus.
Paul’s point is a helpful discipleship reminder. Do the good God puts in your heart. Repent from the need to judge others. You have no power to give anyone eternal life. In God’s eyes, we all need the same grace.
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