Sunday – May 23, 2021
Word On Worship – Sunday – May 23, 2021
But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”
Waiting for his first orthodontist appointment, a 12-year-old boy was a bit nervous. He was completing a patient questionnaire and had high hopes of winning the dentist’s favor. In the space marked “Hobbies” he wrote, “Swimming and flossing”. We all want to make a good impression, to portray ourselves to others as better than we really are. But when we do that, we’re forgetting something important, namely, that God knows the very thoughts and intentions of our hearts. As the writer of Hebrews tells us, “all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (Heb. 4:13). Someday we will stand before Him to give an account of our lives.
Paul begins to zero in on the moral Gentile or Jew in these opening verses, using the same indirect approach that the prophet Amos (Amos 1 & 2), where he begins by condemning the foreign nations around Israel. Just when the Jews are cheering him on, he moves in to hit them with their sins. Self-righteous people tend to justify themselves by blaming others. Self-righteousness is a very difficult sin to get people to see and condemn in themselves. But it’s a serious sin because it keeps people from seeing their need for the gospel. It believes the lie that we can be good enough in ourselves to qualify for heaven. “Maybe really gross sinners need a Savior. But me? Hey, God wouldn’t judge a good guy like me, would He?” Or, would He?
Paul isn’t condemning the act of judging others per se, in that he expects the moral person to agree with him that the sins of Romans 1 are wrong. The problem with judging others is when you secretly engage in the same behavior that you openly condemn. When a politician postures as standing for family values, but it comes out that he snuck off to visit his mistress in South America, he has condemned himself. Paul is not saying that it is wrong to judge others. Rather, he is saying that it is wrong self-righteously to judge others, while at the same time you’re practicing the sins that you’re judging.
The self-righteous are in error concerning divine judgment. They fail to distinguish between God’s present wrath and His coming (future) wrath. One purpose of God’s present wrath is repentance, leading to salvation. The primary purpose of His future wrath is justice. There is no turning back from this judgment. When we look upon those God has “given over to sin” as eternally doomed, we are just as incorrect as looking upon those who are presently experiencing God’s “kindness” as assured of eternal blessing. For now, both God’s kindness and His severity are directed toward man’s salvation, not his destruction.