Mercy or Condemnation?

Romans 2:1-11 (ESV)

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. 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? 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? But because of 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. He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.

Last week we talked about the evil that men do (the end of Romans Ch. 1) and how we should avoid sin, especially sexual sin. Now Paul reminds us that we are guilty as well. He says to be careful how we judge, and to recognize our own guilt. We must be full of grace and mercy, especially since we hope to receive grace and mercy from God.

This passage reminds us that God does not treat people differently because of race, class, or sex. God judges us and will accept or reject based upon His standards. He will judge based upon what we did, and most importantly, what our motivation is(was) for what we do(did).

For those of us who are in Christ, we pass from judgment for our sins, but if we are not graceful towards others, we are in danger of God applying that same (our own) judgment to us. Jesus illustrated this with the parable about the unforgiving servant in Matt 18:21-34. The servant was forgiven, until he failed to extend forgiveness to others in kind. Then the Master threw him in jail.

Does this mean God’s forgiveness is conditional? I don’t think so, but God’s forgiveness and our acceptance of it should change us. If it does not change us, are we really repentant and accepting? Are we really grateful for His mercy, if we don’t extend that mercy to others? These are the questions we need to ask ourselves, and be honest. We cannot fool God. He will not be mocked. If we experience changed lives because of His mercy, we will be merciful to others.

I know it is hard to believe, but I still sin. Just a simple example: I wrote recently about my problem with speeding. I have slowed down, but not every time. I catch myself creeping back up there. I do not, however, judge others for doing the same. If a person is weaving in and out of traffic, or driving negligently, that is different. But going the same speed as the other traffic, or if no one else is on the road, a few MPH over will not harm anything. But it is also just as bad to drive excessively slow as excessively fast. To go significantly different speed than the other traffic, makes a driver a hazard.

We need to check our attitudes. We need to be full of grace toward others. We need to honor God not just in our actions, but also in our thoughts. The best chaplain I ever worked for/with in the Army, is/was a former Marine. When we would visit the line batteries (we were in an Air Defense Artillery unit), sometimes the soldiers would cuss in front of us. They would then apologize to the chaplain. He would reply something like, “That’s ok. It is easy to stop saying things like that. Let me know if you manage to stop THINKING it.”

May God bless each of you today. May He grant you mercy, and help you in your efforts to extend that mercy to others.

by Virgil Stripes

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