Do you know someone who lays things on the line, doesn’t pull her punches, and states the truth as it is? If you’ve read any of Paul’s letters, you must realize that he is just such a person. I have a friend like that, although our discussion are much more gentle and round-about. However, I value her for holding me accountable, for asking the hard questions, for quietly waiting for me to come to terms with the topic we are currently discussing. Do you have someone who holds you accountable?
Paul has been playing that role for me also as we read through Romans together. He’s always challenging me to look inward and then upward.
I included these verses in both the New Living Translation (NLT) and The Message (MSG).
You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things. And we know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things. Since you judge others for doing these things, why do you think you can avoid God’s judgment when you do the same things? Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?Romans 2:1-4, NLT
Those people are on a dark spiral downward. But if you think that leaves you on the high ground where you can point your finger at others, think again. Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself. It takes one to know one. Judgmental criticism of others is a well-known way of escaping detection in your own crimes and misdemeanors. But God isn’t so easily diverted. He sees right through all such smoke screens and holds you to what you’ve done.Romans 2:1-4. MSG
You didn’t think, did you, that just by pointing your finger at others you would distract God from seeing all your misdoings and from coming down on you hard? Or did you think that because he’s such a nice God, he’d let you off the hook? Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.
Four categories stood out to me as I read these verses, so I used them (below) to record the information. Chart your own discoveries, using your own categories if you prefer.
SINNERS. We may argue about which sins are worse than others, but does that really matter?
OURSELVES. These words from Paul felt as though they were spoken directly to me.
GOD. In Romans 1 we learned that God was the Creator, Almighty, and Everlasting. Paul reveals some more attributes of God in these verses.
JUDGMENTAL CRITICISM. How much of our self-conceived worth depends on pointing out others who sin worse than we do?
The words to a song struck a nerve when I was young, and I still remember them clearly:
“Strumming my pain with his fingers
“Singing my life with his words
“Killing me softly with his song
“Killing me softly with his song
“Telling my whole life with his words
“Killing me softly with his song.”
These lyrics are clue to what God’s message was for me in Romans 2: 1-4. What stood out for you?
I didn’t have to think too long about what doodle would represent the message of these verses to me. I’ll show it to you tomorrow.