June 25, 2017 – 3rd Sunday after Pentecost
by Pastor Pete Scheele
Read Romans 2: 12 – 29
Grace and peace to you as you let God’s Word reform your heart, from God, our Father, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Last week in Romans chapter 1 we were given the reason for letting God work on reforming our lives to His Word and it all starts with the love, peace and joy that God wants to give to us in this world so that we can live with Him now and for all eternity. This week as we continue to strive to reform our live to God’s Word we come to chapter two in the book of Romans and God through the words of the Apostle Paul point us to two aspects of our lives that need some work, judgement of others and pride in our selves.
We all find ourselves judging what other people are doing as right or wrong. In fact, that’s what we hear and read about in our news broadcast and social media outlets so often. Judging others just comes natural to us in so many way that it has become a part of our lives. So, what’s the problem with forming Judgment about others? The Apostle Paul explains, “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 do such things.” (Rom. 2:1-2) By judging other others we break the 8th and other commandments. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.
Here is where the problem comes that leads us away from God’s love, peace and joy and into the worlds hatred and corruption. How can I defend my neighbor when I am making a judgment about him or her that is based on facts that I only know from second hand sources? God’s word tells us to explain everything in the kindest way, but the world tells us to make snap judgments and go with our feelings.
But that’s where the problems come with the what we are doing with the judgements we come up with. When we pass judgment on some one for doing something wrong according to God’s laws we are passing that judgment also on ourselves, for we are guilty of breaking every one of the Ten Commandments just as much and anyone else is. But to fulfill the Ten Commandments we are told to first love God above all things and the love our neighbor as much as our selves. God’s love, peace and joy are the way of using the judgements that we come up with about ourselves and others.
So, what are we supposed to be doing with the judgment that we form when we see someone doing something that is against the laws of God and nature? Well in that judgment God is showing us our short comings so that we can reform our lives in love for God, instead of asking for the wrath of God, which we all deserve. God is our judge and we are God’s messengers of His love, peace and joy. If the Apostle Paul were watching us in our world today he might tell us. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Christian first and also the unbeliever,  but glory and honor and peace are for everyone who does good, the Christian first and also the unbeliever.  For God shows no partiality.  For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. (Romans 2:9-12 changing Jew / Christian & Greek / unbeliever)
The reformation that needs to begin in us is not in the ability of judging one another but in what we do with our judgments. God judges our works in this world and saw that they were far from the love, peace and joy that He had created us to live in. So, God in His love for us sent His Only Son Jesus Christ into this world to not only show us how to live in love, peace and joy with one another. He then took all our sins upon Himself and when to the cross of Calvary to suffer all that we desire for our sins. By Jesus’ death He conquered death for us and then He rose again on the third day to give us the opportunity to live in God’s perfect love, peace and joy again instead of the death, destruction and damnation we deserved. So how are you use your ability to make judgments? To make the world better, like God did for us instead of condemning the world because of our sins? The attitude that we have about our judgment makes all the difference for how we use our judgments and build up our self and our neighbor or it can lead us to destruction, it all depends on how we let God use His Word in our lives, for He gave us His Love, peace and joy instead of His wrath. With His help guiding our reformation we to can share the love, peace and joy of God with our neighbor even if the world and the devil is working on our destruction.
Where is our pride? That is the second aspect of our lives that the Apostle Paul addresses in chapter 2 of Romans. We all have pride in the things that we have been a part of in this world but at the same time we must admit that we have fallen short in sharing the love, peace and joy that God has given to us. When we look at fulfilling the Ten Commandments we have to have love for what God has done for us first in our live and the love of God for our neighbors. The Apostle Paul were here today and talking to us about our pride in doing what God wants us to be doing he would say to us, “For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.  For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.  For when an unbeliever, who does not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.  They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them  on that day when, according to the Good News of God’s Word, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. (Rom. 2:12 – 16 changing Gentile / unbeliever and Gospel / Good News of God’s Word)
We don’t have the ability to live a perfect life here on this earth because of sin. Thus, the reformation of our life has to come through God’s Word and it starts with the heart. If our heart is proud of what we have done we have fallen back into the temptation that the devil used against Adam and Eve in the beginning. Satan wants us to be self-seeking instead of God-seeking, to have pride in what we have accomplished in this world instead of what God has accomplish for and through us. The Apostle Paul reminds us, “I if you call yourself a 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?” (Rom. 2:17 – 21)
Do you learn as you teach others about the skills and abilities that God has given to you? Or do you take pride in your accomplishment and forget about the one who gave you those abilities to accomplish the task. It all depends on what is your focus. The first and greatest commandment is to Love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind. Pride in God’s accomplishment for you and through you gives you a different aspect on who is in control of your life. The devil and the evil world wants you to think that you are controlling your life instead of in the hands of God who created you and takes care of you. Pride in God’s love for you brings you the peace of God that is beyond the worlds understanding and the joy of being a part of the wonderful life that God has given to us. Pride in our self goes before the destruction and fall that will happen as we try to push God out of our lives. The Apostle Paul tells us that focus on our reformation for our lives in God’s Word starts in our heart as he tells us, “For no one is a Christian who is merely one outwardly, nor is Baptism outward and physical. But a Christian is one inwardly, and Baptism is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.” (Rom. 2:28-29 changing Jew / Christian and Circumcision / Baptism) True faith in Christ as our Lord and Savior is found in our hearts as the Holy Spirit work in our hearts and minds through God’s Word to reform our lives back to the love, peace and joy that God wants us to live in. When our focus is on the outward things that are going on in our lives we lose focus on what will last forever.
God came to take away all our sins and give us baptism so that He could wash away all our sins and give us the Holy Spirit to reform our live in the love, peace and joy only He can give to us. It’s as we let the Holy Spirit go to work in our heart and minds that true reformation begins and it is shown in the way that we use our ability to make judgments that build up the love of God given to us so that the peace of God can be shared with others so that they too may find the joy of God’s love working in their lives.
It a matter of the heart as the Holy Spirit works in our live to love God and all that He has done for us so that we can love our neighbor and share the peace of God that leads to a joy in this world that is beyond the world’s understanding.
God has given us the ability to make judgments, but only the judgments that come from the heart that is filled with God’s love will bring us the peace that we are looking for and that means sharing the joy we have found in God’s love. Pride in what God has and will do in our lives starts as God goes to work in our hearts so that we can move from the destruction that sin has brought to our live to the love that God has for us. The pride that flows from the heart of God is filled with a peace that goes beyond our actions to using all the abilities and blessings that God has bestowed in our live to give glory to him and share the joy of His love with others so that they too may find the peace that is beyond this world.
Yes, the reformation of our lives begins in the heart that is washed clean by God’s love that changes our mind to look at our judgment for a different way of bring the peace of God to others so that they to ma know the joy of having pride in all that God has done for us. Amen.