It’s not about them

Change is a funny thing. As soon as I change, the world starts to change around me. And it’s hardly ever the other way around. My thoughts on this are a follow up to my last post: God’s renovation project. I also want to give a shout-out to InsanityBytes’s post on this subject: “Remodeling You.” You should check that out, too. It’s very good.

I was reading Romans 1 and 2 today and thinking about this. It seems Jesus is trying to get His church out of Romans 1 and into Romans 2.

It’s sort of like what my wife and I see in marriage counseling. We’ve been meeting with troubled couples for a couple of decades now, and it’s almost always about each one confessing the other’s sins and not their own.

We seem to hold onto this illusion that if the other person will just change, our world will get better.

I’ve also heard countless preachers preach on the evil deeds of our society using the litany of sins listed in Romans 1:18-32, and certainly these behaviors have become ubiquitous in the world we find ourselves in. But I’ve never heard these same preachers continue on with the “therefore” of Romans 2 (remember, there are no chapter breaks in the original text).

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? (Roman 2:1-3 NIV*)

Romans 2 is “there for” Romans 1. Paul is not excusing the sins he just mentioned. God will certainly judge people who suppress the truth and do those evil things. No one really gets away with anything in the long run. He’s just saying that judging them is not our job, especially since we still do a lot of the same things.

In fact, studies have shown that Christians don’t behave much better than unbelievers in a lot of the major moral categories, including marriage. That alone should tell us we have our judgmental finger pointed in the wrong direction.

Here’s what Paul said about this in his letter to the Corinthians:

12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. (1 Cor.5:12-13*)

Here’s the point: God is the judge of these people who don’t follow Him…which means we’re not their judge.

Going further in Romans 2, it should get a little scarier for us who like to judge others….

So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? (Rom.2:3-4 NIV*)

Who is Paul talking to here? Sinners? Reprobates? Is he talking to “them?” No, he’s talking to you and me. He’s saying it’s God’s kindness that leads me to repentance.

Wait a minute…you mean, God is talking to…ME? I’m the one that supposed to change!

And what should give us pause is that when we feel the need to judge others we come under God’s judgment ourselves. Safety tip…don’t do that!

So, just as it’s not good to read Romans 1 without also reading Romans 2, remember that the only person you have any power to change is you.

Changing the world starts with changing the person you look at in the mirror every day.

* All emphasis added.

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 39 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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7 Responses to It’s not about them

  1. Very cool, Mel! Thank you for the mention. I love your first couple of sentences. That’s it in a nutshell. As crazy as it sounds or feels, it is when we ourselves change that the world around us begins to change. I enjoy some of those stories about lottery winners, well not really, but I mean they help me to see the truth of those words. Many people win the lottery and wind up right where they were, or even worse off. Sometimes people will move across the country and not realize the source of the problem has moved with them. People can get divorced and remarried and suddenly find themselves in the same bad marriage they just left. Unfortunately, we are often the only common denominator in many of our problems.

    I also really like what you did with, “Romans 2 is “there for” Romans 1.” I actually really enjoy or take a lot of comfort in, “You, therefore, have no excuse..” It means listen, you have the power, authority, and ability to change this. When it’s all someone else’s fault, you are powerless.

    Hubby and I are still married, doing pretty well in the midst of some huge challenges, and part of that is simply being aware of how we are a reflection of one another. LOL, it’s very hard to hold someone in condemnation when they are simply a reflection of your own projections and unmet needs. 🙂

    • Mel Wild says:

      Amen, IB. Like the old saying, “No matter where you go, there you are!”

      “…it’s very hard to hold someone in condemnation when they are simply a reflection of your own projections and unmet needs.”

      Very true. Also, as long as we project ourselves on the other, we will never see them for who they really are. I will keep insisting that they be “me” instead of who they really are.

  2. AfroLatino says:

    Thank you Mel.

    For too long, we have focused on how bad the society is but light trumps over darkness all the time. We also have lots of cleaning up to do as the body of Christ.

    Your statement about us not being much different from unbelievers is quite sobering.

    God bless you for highlighting these deep truths to us.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thank you, AfroLatino. It’s quite sobering indeed! But, the good news is, God reveals what He wants to heal, so being aware of this is the first step toward change. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Our unbelief and His faithfulness | In My Father's House

  4. Citizen Tom says:

    @Mel

    Great insights! Like that observation on Romans 1 versus Romans 2. Wonder if I dare show this to my lady.

    It’s sort of like what my wife and I see in marriage counseling. We’ve been meeting with troubled couples for a couple of decades now, and it’s almost always about each one confessing the other’s sins and not their own.

    God knows we are always trying to fix each other.

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