“Physician, Heal Thyself”
Loving Lord, in response to Your overflowing grace toward me, I give myself to You in joyful abandon.
Read Romans 2:17-29
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Almighty and most merciful Father, we have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep… But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us……” (from The General Confession, Book of Common Prayer).
What are the main criticisms that unbelievers make of Christians? Isn’t hypocrisy at the top of the list? In v. 24 Paul is quoting from the Septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament), where Isaiah 52:5 reads, “It’s because of you that my name is blasphemed among the Gentiles.” Ouch. These words should cause us some soul-searching. Is my behavior giving someone else a false understanding of God? Am I standing in the way of a neighbor, a colleague, a family member finding Christ? It can be just one thing that I do, or just one thing in my attitude that attracts or repels someone from Christ. “I’m quite serious,” translates Eugene Peterson (The Message, v. 21). A similar censure came to David after his affair with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 12:12). David poured out his heart in repentance (Psa. 51) leaving a model for us all.
Circumcision marked the Jews as God’s own people. Too easily they regarded Gentiles with abhorrence (as “dogs”), feeling secure in their special relationship with God. But Jesus, especially in Luke’s Gospel, singled out Gentiles for praise.
When Paul tells his readers that Gentiles who keep God’s Law will condemn Jews who break the Law, can you imagine their reaction? Does our claim to be “a born-again Christian” or our membership in an evangelical church (fill in your own self-identification as a Christian) produce in us a false security? Paul does not disparage circumcision per se, nor should we disparage what we feel to be our Christian identity. What matters is the heart, manifesting itself in Christ-like living. Without that, any badge we wear of Christ-likeness is no more than that, a badge, pointing to an empty page.
How do you identify yourself as a Christian? To what extent is “badge” an accurate description of your life?
Create in me a clean heart, O God (Psa. 51:10), and help me to live so that my life draws others to You, not turns them away.
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