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. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 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….
3 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? 4 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.