|Reflections for this date are based on the following scripture passages:|
|Romans 1||Romans 2||Romans 3||Exodus 37||Exodus 38||Psalms 37|
In the previous reflection, "Love, More Powerful Than A Sword," I spoke of the misunderstanding of Jesus' disciples when He told them, "whoever doesn't have a sword should sell his robe and buy one." (Luke 24:36) Jesus spoke of the sword metaphorically to highlight the danger that was coming for those who were His followers. He does not want us to use violence or angry words and actions against those who oppose God or His followers. Instead, He has commissioned His followers to be His witnesses to those who oppose Him that they might come to salvation through faith in Jesus.
In today's readings, which include Romans chapters 1-3 and Psalms 37, we are instructed further about our actions toward those who oppose God. What are our thoughts when we read passages such as this one in Romans chapter 1, "From the creation of the world His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse. For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened." (Romans 1:20-21) Often in reading this we are indignate towards those who oppose God ignoring His "eternal power and divine nature" as revealed through what He has made. Paul says they are without excuse and we what to throw that in their face. I know those thoughts are possible because I have had them.
But we fail to read on into Romans 2:1-4, or at least fail to connect it with chapter 1. In these verses Paul says, "Therefore, anyone of you who judges is without excuse. For when you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things. We know that God's judgment on those who do such things is based on the truth. Do you really think--anyone of you who judges those who do such things yet do the same--that you will escape God's judgment? Or do you despise the riches of His kindness, restraint, and patience, not recognizing that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?" So, having spoken in chapter 1 of the lack of excuse for those who oppose God, Paul then says if we judge those who oppose God we are also without excuse. Why? Because when we judge others we condemn ourselves since we do the same things as those we judge. What does he mean we do the same things? He means that we have all sinned. None of us are innocent.
The psalmist in Psalms 37 approaches it another way saying, "do not be agitated by . . . the man who carries out evil plans. Refrain from anger and give up your rage; do not be agitated--it can only bring harm." The bottom line for the psalmist was that it is all in God's hands. "For evildoers will be destroyed, but those who put their hope in the LORD will inherit the land." (Psalms 37:7-9)