I haven’t done a Read.Write.Pray. post in a while. To be honest, I haven’t actually been doing any writing for a long time; but I’ve started back up again! I finally finished Hebrews, where I left off, and have written through a small New Testament book. Now I’m in Romans!
The past few days of it have been really weighing on me- so I decided I needed to write and share with you!
The passage that got me starts in Romans 1 and goes through the whole of chapter 2. Let’s take a look:
Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
This tends to be all that people see of this passage. They go to it when they want to tell the LGBT community that what they’re doing is sin; and the attitude with which this message is conveyed to them often makes it sound like this sexual sin is one of the worst sins in the world. And while this passage leaves no doubt that this type of relationship is considered sin, we can’t stop reading there! This passage has a lot more to say. Let’s continue:
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
Whoa! Do you see what is listed here? As if “all manner of unrighteousness” didn’t cover pretty much every sin already, it goes into more detail. I don’t know about you, but I know that I struggle with some of these things listed sometimes. (Here are some definitions, in case you need them. Covet is to yearn to possess something that belongs to another. Malice is to have intent to harm another. Envy is feeling discontent or longing for something because of something another has. Deceit is concealing or misrepresenting the truth. Gossip is casual or unrestrained talking about other people’s private affairs. Slander is damaging a person’s reputation with a falsely spoken statement. Insolent is a rude and arrogant lack of respect. Faithless is being disloyal or untrustworthy. Heartless is having a complete lack of feeling or consideration. Ruthless is having no pity or compassion for others.)
This passage is saying that our world has exchanged the glory of God for images of creation, and exchanged the truth about God for lies. Because of those things -putting God on the same level as the things he created- many things happened in the world. All sorts of sin has run rampant. And nobody is safe from it:
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.
We all sin, in many ways; and a lot of the time, we pass judgment on others while we struggle with the same sin, though maybe in a different way, in our own hearts. Even so, every sin separates us from God. Not just the politically charged ones, or the ones we don’t do ourselves. We have no excuse to judge another’s sin, when we have our own sin to deal with. God is kind, restrained and tolerant, and patient towards us when we sin against him. And those things are meant to lead us to turn away from our sin toward him!
We tend to think that if we say the right things to others, and tell them about their sins, we’re being a light to the nation, pointing them to the knowledge and truth of God’s word… But if our behavior is the exact opposite of what we are preaching to others, does it have any real meaning?
But if you call yourself a Jew [Christian] and rely on the law and boast in God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For no one is a Jew [Christian] who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew [Christian] is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.
What we look like on the outside, the things we let people see, isn’t what makes us a Christian! It is what is on the inside that God sees. Are our hearts transformed by him? We aren’t Christians just because we go to church, say the right things, and put on a shiny exterior. We are Christians because we’ve given ourselves to Christ, sin and all, and are being transformed by him as we follow him, and learn more about the knowledge and truth that has been revealed to us about him.
People know that we’re Christians because we love others, and display the same kind of kindness, tolerance, and patience towards others that he displays towards us! So, let’s love others as he does, but let’s leave the judging to him.