Gracious God, I come before You with all my confusions. I need correction and encouragement, stimulation and assurance.
Read Romans 2:1-16
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.
“All the restlessness, pleasure-seeking, and escapism that mark the life of humankind in every age and all the world over, are symptomatic of judicial estrangement from God” (John Stott).
Most English translations leave out the idiomatic “O man” with which Paul began this section, taking on the style of a popular preacher haranguing someone in the crowd as he enters into debate with an imagined reader, and attacking his hypocrisy. Did you fall into the trap? The point is not that the imaginary (Jewish) reader is accused of idolatry and homosexuality, but that he is quick to judge others while blind to his own sin. The NRSV translation of “O man” as “whoever you are” presses the point home. Paul is speaking to me, too. Now we see that yesterday’s reading is not so much Paul inveighing against the moral degeneracy of his time (though he does that) as Paul setting up the hearer/reader of the letter to be caught in the act of hypocrisy. It is the first step in the argument that will lead to the categorical statement in 3:19,20.
Paul makes two other salient points. Notice what he says in vs. 6 to 8. It is all too easy for our confidence in justification by faith (which he will elaborate on in the coming chapters) to lead us to carelessness about how we live in the present. Do we presume on God’s “kindness, tolerance and patience” (4)? Just because I have not experienced his judgment in the present, do I assume that I will be immune to it in the future?
This is Paul’s main point: when it comes to our standing before God, it makes no difference who we are, Jew or Gentile. Or, for that matter, Catholic or Protestant, or even Christian or pagan (14). (If you question this, see Matt. 12:41,42). And Paul has much more to say on this in what we’ll read in the days ahead!
Let God’s Word speak to you and challenge you personally today. Have you ever presumed on God’s “kindness, tolerance and patience”?
Lord, forgive me that to escape judgment from You, I sometimes point the finger at others. Help me understand that when I criticize others, I condemn myself.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.
© 2024 Scripture Union U.S.A. All rights reserved. Reproduction of the whole or any part of the contents without written permission is prohibited.
Encounter with God is published in the USA under license from Scripture Union England and Wales, Trinity House, Opal Court, Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes, MK15 0DF.