Judgment: Romans 2:1-11

“Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man–you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself–that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.”–Romans 2:1-11

Our culture celebrates the idea of not judging others. Non-Christians use this line constantly to tell Christians to back off popular views on sexual immorality, abortion and a host of other sins plaguing the world.

But does God’s Word really say not to judge others? Is that what Paul is getting at in this passage?

There’s a key part to this text, and it’s the same key we find in Matthew 7, when Jesus is talking about judgment. That verse reads:

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”–Matthew 7:1-5

We must “take the log out” first. Paul attacks the popular Pharisaical belief, which the former Pharisee would be familiar with, that being Jewish, that being circumcised and knowing the law made one right with God.

Paul calls out any Jewish reader reading the previous passage calling out a litany of sins who thinks himself better than another because they don’t commit murder or adultery or the other sins he lists.

Paul will soon make it clear that “all have sinned,” and all “fall short” of the glory of God.

So does our own sin keep us from judging others? It does if we don’t acknowledge our own sin.

So how do we judge rightly?

  1. Acknowledge sin and repent. Acknowledge where you fall short, confess sin to the Lord and ask for forgiveness and grace to follow Jesus.
  2. For rebuking Christians: Lovingly confront brothers and sisters in Christ. Let the grace of God make you loving and kind, not arrogant and haughty.
  3. But…be firm. God doesn’t play games with us regarding our sin, and though we ought to speak the truth in love, we better speak the truth.
  4. For calling out non-Christians: Share the gospel. How wicked is it if we tell people they have a problem without giving them the solution?

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer for self-righteousness and unrighteousness. His grace melts the hard of both the legalist and those who know how sinful they are. His grace reminds us of our need for Him, whether we are doing “well” or doing “poorly,” because at the end of the day, we are all sinners who need grace.

Share that grace today.

Lord, may we not judge others before judging ourselves. May we let the gospel inform our judging and may we not let our self-righteousness get in the way of sharing the gospel.

God bless,

Neal E.

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How Now Shall I Live?

This is not a political post, though its beginning will make it seem that way. So please, keep reading until the end.

I’ll admit it’s been weird for me in the last two and a half months since Donald Trump won the election and assumed the presidency of the United States. I’ve been angry; I’ve been bitter; I’ve been upset by comments made on both sides of the aisle and by those I consider friends. I never thought politics would affect me the way it has these past few months, but if the president of the country you reside in attacked the profession that pays your rent, you’d be animated, too.

And to be honest, I’ve gone back and forth on how to handle this strange new world we’re in as a Christian and as a journalist.

I can’t stay silent in the face of President Trump’s outrageous lies, unfair attacks on my colleagues and the danger he presents to the American public, even if that public fails to see it. I am not criticizing those who voted for him, because I have loved ones who voted for him for legitimate reasons. But I have strong feelings about him, to say the least.

And yet, I’m aware of the fact that thousands upon thousands of years from now, I will be worshiping Jesus and Donald Trump’s presidency will be a blip on the radar of history. America will no longer exist, and all of this may very well seem small.

And that humbles me. It reminds me that my most important task on this earth is to share the gospel, to show God’s love and to reflect Him in the way I live, not call out the lies of a man who is powerless to change my eternal destiny, even if he can destroy this temporary country.

And yet, again….there are close to 320 million people in this country. 320 million people, all made in the image of God. All affected by the decisions made in Washington, D.C. As a Christian, who knows and serves a just and holy God, I cannot stand for injustice and ungodliness, and cannot stand to see people made in God’s image mistreated or threatened with mistreatment.

My mind goes to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who stood up against a tyrannical, evil dictator in Nazi Germany. Bonhoeffer’s stand against Hitler is legendary. He taught God’s Word in underground seminaries while working to take down Hitler and commenting on ethical and moral issues raised at the time.

While Donald Trump is far from Hitler, the lesson remains the same: In the face of evil leaders, the church needs some Dietrich Bonhoeffers, who will both remain faithful to God’s Word and mission, not neglecting to be like Jesus and make disciples, but who will also take advantage of the situation God has placed them in to be prophetic and counter-cultural, speaking to current issues and events.

So, how should I live? How should Christians live? Here’s a few aims I have in this new America:

  1. Keep your eyes on Jesus. He is our hope, our inheritance, our joy. Remember that eternal life is eternal, and the next four years, whatever they may bring, are not.
  2. Keep the gospel primary. Share it frequently. As much as I hope my (hopefully) intelligent critiques of national issues are, they are worthless compared to the joy and the importance of the gospel. The hope the gospel brings is so much more than the temporary hope of new government leaders. They will never save us, but praise God Jesus does.
  3. Keep conversations godly. I have failed in this so far, on several occasions. Rid your discussions about government (and everything else, for that matter) of name-calling, gossip, and please, please….no more fake news. It’s not just a journalism issue…our God is a God of truth, and when you share fake news, you tell those watching that honesty isn’t important to you or to the God you worship.
  4. Keep fighting the good fight. God did not promise us an easy existence, and we have not earned one.

As a journalist, I will fight everyday to ensure the people that read our paper know what is going on in the areas I cover, no matter how unimportant some may think that is. I will fight as an American journalist to hold the government accountable, and will use every tool in my toolbox toward that end, even in the face of the outright persecution we now are facing.

And as a Christian, I will fight the good fight of faith, which is much more important than the fight for good journalism. I will fight to be like Jesus in all I do. I will fight to share the gospel with more people than ever before. I will fight to make disciples and serve the church wherever I may go. I will fight to advance God’s kingdom and show compassion to those around me. As much as I plan to use social media and word-of-mouth and my profession to critique the current administration and to help make the world a better place, God has called me to also use it to make much of Him, and that must and will be more prominent than temporary, albeit serious, worldly matters.

Live godly. Live well.

Lord, may we honor you in these troubling times. May we seek first the kingdom of God and your righteousness, and may we see all we need added to us. May we treat others with grace. May we pray for our leaders, that they would come to know you as Savior and Lord and make godly decisions. May we be found faithful, no matter the country, culture or situation we find ourselves in.

God bless,

Neal E.