Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Gift of Life

Those people are on a dark spiral downward. But if you think that leaves you on the high ground where you can point your finger at others, think again. Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself. It takes one to know one. Judgmental criticism of others is a well-known way of escaping detection in your own crimes and misdemeanors. (Romans 2:1, MSG).
The Bible verse above is right in the middle of a larger point the Apostle Paul is making. He makes a great point here, but it's not his final point. He's laying the foundation for something much bigger, which I'll get into below.

I've noticed that many people seem to pick out pieces of Romans 1 without continuing on in Romans 2 and 3. Romans 1 mentions various sinful deeds, and I've seen people choosing a handful of those sins and going around judging the people of the world for those sins. But that's not why Paul wrote Romans 1. It's not a list of sins for Christians to watch out for or to judge one another for, or to judge to world for. His point in this first chapter leads up to Romans 2 (including the above verse)... which then leads up to Romans 3! (Again, I'll get to that in a minute).

Paul says in essence, "Who do you think you are, going around judging others? You are no different! Who do you think you are, teaching the law and rules, and trying to get people to live by them, but yet you fall short in keeping them yourself! I just got done listing a bunch of 'things which are not fitting,' and people who are 'filled with all unrighteousness' (see Rom 1:28-29). Don't you get it, that if you're going to point out and judge others for their behavior, you're right there on the list too!!! So quit your judging and quit trying to get others to keep the rules!"

Sadly, many people have used Romans 1 to go out and protest the sins that the people of the world commit. And many have made Romans 2 out to be a harsh word to those who aren't keeping the rules. But if you look at the whole thing from start to finish, Paul is being harsh toward legalists! He's being tough on those who think they actually make the grade and/or who think they're better than others. And again, he's leading up to something even greater!

The GOOD NEWS in all of this - which is what Paul is leading up to the whole time - is that even though all have fallen short, there is this thing called a gift through which people are freely justified (see Romans 3 - "to all and on all who believe"). Read the whole thing all the way through and see that it's not about sin and it's not about judging others... it's about the gift of life!


  1. I'd rather point people to the free gift of life than to go around pointing out all the things that are wrong with them. I hear people badmouthing others all the time, and while I've got some growing to do in that area myself, I realize more and more that we're ALL in the same boat, and more and more it sickens me that any one human speaks so poorly of any other human, whether it be social, political, cultural or whatever. If you're not pointing to Life, then what are you pointing to?

  2. The other day I heard in the radio about homosexuality being a terrible sin (quoting romans). I wonder why people don't quote the passages about sins such as greed, envy, gluttony, anger, hatred etc. I get sick of the self-proclaimed Christian watch dogs...

    Joel, you just put the entire thing (first 3 chapters of romans) into context and very well said. Thanks!

  3. Yep, those are my thoughts exactly, Bino. Those who have such a hard time with homosexuality seem to ignore everything else that is mentioned in this passage (and other passages), and go around judging others and trying to influence society and make laws based upon this one thing. Why don't they also try to make laws based on all the other things Paul mentioned? They justify their attempts to make certain laws by talking about harm to society, but don't some of those other things cause terrible harm?

    I wish Christians would read all this stuff in context. :) And then even beyond Romans 1 through 3, they'd also see that none of this stuff is overcome through law, but only by the Spirit, who comes to dwell in us via the truth of the gift of life!