You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgement on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgement do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgement against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgement on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgement? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? (verses 1-4)
It is so easy to think that we’re “not as bad as the next guy,” that our situation is less severe, that there are “reasons” for our failings while those of others are hard-wired into their system. It is so easy to think we’re travelling in different streams, that we’re in different boats.
Paul says, think again. We’re actually all in the same boat. We have no excuse. None of us. We stand condemned. We’re under judgement, and that judgement is based in God’s truth. There is no room for escape.
Except … Except for the escape that God himself offers. Paul is going to flesh this out (wonderfully, gloriously) in succeeding chapters as he talks about a righteousness from God that can be ours (already mentioned in Romans 1:17), a righteousness that comes by faith, that brings us into a new status of grace, set free from the law, set free from sin. And all of it ours through the sacrificial death of Jesus for us, experienced through faith.
All of that is coming in the following pages. But here, in this passage, the doorway to escape is already clearly marked for us, a simple sign above it reading, “Repentance”. That’s where Paul is bringing us all. Repentance. Realize that you stand in the same need as all humanity. Repent. It is our Lord’s gracious invitation to turn around, to have a change of mind that leads to a change of direction and behaviour. It is turning to God in our need, realizing that while “the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people” (1:18), at the same time the incredible “riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience” (2:4) is also being poured out. These are wooing us towards the doorway marked “Repentance.”
Don’t miss it. Don’t show contempt for God’s great gift. Step through into amazing grace.
And, if you have already done so, give thanks. Stand in awe. Don’t move back into a place of judging others. Instead, keep coming back, again and again, to this place of “repentance,” turning afresh to Him in your ongoing need.
Lord, thank you for your grace. Thank you for the wonder that will be unfolding in these succeeding chapters of the grace of the Lord Jesus for us. Thank you for your kindness, tolerance and patience for me.
I acknowledge again my need. I repent of sin afresh. I bring it to mind – I turn to you. Likewise, I repent of any and all judgement I have placed on the world around me and specific individuals within it. Forgive me. I’m in the same boat, desperately needing salvation. Thank you that you have so graciously given it.
In Jesus. Amen.
Reflect: There is great trouble and disorder and brokenness and sin in our world. Reflect. Acknowledge that you, too, have been infected with this sin as part of Adam’s family. Standing now in grace, choose to extend grace today. Look for opportunities.