A Bible Study Challenge, a timely one:
Romans 2 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Righteous Judgment of God
2 Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. 2 You say, “We know that God’s judgment on those who do such things is in accordance with truth.” 3 Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But by 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 For he will repay according to each one’s deeds: 7 to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 while for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. 9 There will be anguish and distress for everyone who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality.
12 All who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. 15 They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them 16 on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all.
Read this passage once a day now through Friday. Then ask yourself this question:
Whose side are you on?
Sunday, June 24th we heard a message about actions speaking louder than words. It’s one thing to “know” the right thing to do as spelled out in God’s Word, but another to “do” what is right. Choosing to do what is right, even when it’s not what’s most comfortable and easiest for you, requires character.
Yesterday, we talked about Christian Character – the will to do what is right, as defined by God, regardless of the personal cost. The willingness to give something up; comfort, convenience, a dear friends’ favorable opinion of you…for what you know God expects you to do is Christian Character. Some talk the talk (are hearers of the law) and others walk the walk. Benjamin Franklin had a great quote expressing this notion, “Well done is better than well said” When it comes to the people we are closest to, we learn more about how God is working in and through them (or not) by their actions more so than their words. We have words flying at us all day long from people whose actions cancel out their words, sometimes despite their own excuses to the contrary.
The social media outlets you read, the media and entertainment industry representatives are rife with hearers of the law. (v. 13 “For it is NOT the hearers of the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but the DOERS of the law who will be justified.”)
Hearers hold up the law to measure the actions and perceived actions of others, even to suggest they know the intent, without actually knowing the person personally. Hearers of the law will treat others with disrespect because they have judged them disrespectful and not deserving of respect. And they will do so without that mirror of truth showing them…they are doing the same doggone thing, some claiming it’s what God would want. Read Romans 2:1-16. We who have worked in web messaging have oft heard “content is king.” But I say, “context is key.”
Context: How often have parents heard the argument, “she started it” and answered with, “well I’m finishing it.” And that’s the point. God doesn’t care who started it. God cares how you respond, what you say, how you say it, and why. We know full well when we say something intentionally to put another down but call it putting them in their place. We know full well when we respond to put another down in order to lift ourselves up. We know full well when we are refusing to show hospitality to another of God’s children because we don’t feel they deserve it. Thing is…we don’t make the rules, although we like to think we do. Not if we have Christian Character.
There is no partiality with God. He judges every single one of us with the same measure. He knows when you do something despite knowing better. There’s another one of those parental quotes, “you know better than that!” Parents are meant to teach compassionate conflict resolution based on the fact that we love each other unconditionally and because we do, we treat each other as loved people not because they deserve it…because we love each other. Trust me, if you got what you deserve…what you really, really, deserve…it might not be so awesome. I know that it’s a good thing God loves me!
Against such things, there is no law.
Today, take a moment and read through your friend’s posts and you will see there’s plenty of partiality among your friends. There is no partiality with God. He doesn’t care what color you are, what gender you are, how old you are, what you do for a living, or…and hear me now…what political party you vote under. (You want to argue with that? Don’t bother. Read Romans 2:1-16 again.)
Bottom line is, God knows your heart. God wants the best for you and your enemy. He is on your side. And God wants all to have the best life possible and knows it’s only going to happen when we work TOGETHER. Is it easy? (Read your friends’ posts.) No. Can you wave your magic tweet, post or snapchat and make it all better? Nope. You’re going to have to choose whose side you’re on. Are you on the side of the hearers or the doers? And if you are a doer, you will need that Christian Character to work alongside those who do not agree with you on every jot and tiddle of life.
Next time you are asked to choose sides remember, there indeed is no partiality with God. Jesus showed no partiality with people. Jesus ate with sinners! Let me say that again…in light of today’s headlines. JESUS ATE WITH SINNERS. Not only did they dine together, Jesus talked with them and listened to them. Hospitality that knows no bounds is a choice that shows Christian Character. You do not get to decide who is worthy of Jesus. More important, the only way to preach love as the solution to others is to show through your actions that you love others as yourself.
Anyone suggesting that you engage in behavior contrary to this is not someone you are wise to follow.
Jesus said, “Follow me.” We follow when we recall the “greatest commandment.”
Matthew 22:36-40 (NRSV)
36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him,
“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
With hands to the plow,