It is always special to hear someone say of another, “I have never heard him/her speak a bad word against anyone. They only speak good and kind words of others”. Sadly, there are not too many of these people around today! I think that the bulk humanity have become a critical and largely judgmental bunch always gossiping and putting down someone or other most of the time. James Evangelidis was a friend of mine from many years ago. He was one of these people who spoke only kind words of others. I never heard him judging others in the years that I knew him. He often quoted Jesus’ words, “How can I judge others and look at the speck of dust in my brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in my own eye? Steve, I have a huge plank to contend with!” Every time James would say this I would feel guilty for the time I would unwisely judge others by my pathetic standards.
Today’s passage from Romans 2 looks very candidly at the group of people who thought that through their pedigree they were above Paul’s statements concerning the depravity of humankind when it came to sin. They thought that it was fine that God’s wrath would be on the immoral and pagan person. I mean to say, of course that should be the case. But as for the Jews (perhaps people like us?) we are not as bad as those out there in the street … are we? Look at what they do! Yet, God saw who the Jews really were! He knew exactly what they were like! Yes, they had the Law. Yes, they talked about it! Yes, they studied it! But … and it is a big but … they failed to live it out! They too committed these very same sins as those they looked down on and judged … and God knew! Paul concludes that there is no exception to the rule … everyone is guilty and deserves God’s punishment!
Sadly, the world today thinks there are those who are above God’s law because of their good deeds … people like Mother Theresa, Bill Gates and a host of other wonderful philanthropists who reach out sacrificially to the poor and lowly. Whilst this is great and should be encouraged as a model for us all, the truth is that everyone is found wanting because no one has ever lived up to God’s perfect standard of good works! They still sin! They are no different to you and me and carry out sins of commission and sins of omission (where you fail to do what God tells you to do)! Paul says that all face the wrath of God and we will do well to remember this. This is why the book of Romans is so magnificent. It sets the scene of how hopeless a situation we are in … and then opens to us the wonder of God’s grace and provision when it comes to escaping this wrath through Jesus.