Judgment begins with a look in the mirror, and then affirms God’s work in the lives of yourself and others, through God’s kindness, tolerance and patience.
How You See Yourself
In Sumas and Nooksack Valley, I want to part of the wide net cast by God. All people are judged by God. In Romans 1:18-32, there is a litany of sins, now in Rom. 2, the good news is God judges us, and refines us with kindness, tolerance and patience. Tolerance is a great word. It means God loves us even when he does not like what we do. Kind of like our kids! (only joking). Some receive God’s judgment and change, others stubbornly reject God’s judgment. Our tendency is judgmentalism, judging others by our standards. We must adopt a new view of judgment: God’s kind, tolerant and patient judgment. It starts with how you view yourself. Judging others rightly, begins with an inward look.
Rom. 2:1 You, therefore, have no excuse, consider your own decisions, your own sins, your own actions, don’t compare…I have no excuse. I cannot tell others about the depth of God’s kind, tolerant and patient judgment unless I am first sifted by the Lord. I have no excuse, I am a sinner as described by Paul in Romans 1. The human tendency is to compare ourselves with others. Only God knows the human heart: Rom. 2:2. Only God knows. It’s God’s standards, his expectations that we must consider. Paul continues Rom. 2:1: you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. We all despise politicians who get so huffy and puffy over sins of other politicians, only to be caught doing the same or worse. …the old saying – when you point a finger at someone else, three fingers are pointing back– You who pass judgments do the same things? Too often we criticize unfairly. Only God, who is aware of all the facts, is able to judge people righteously. I like this story: John Wesley told of a man he had little respect for because he considered him to be miserly and covetous. One day when this person contributed only a small gift to a worthy charity, Wesley openly criticized him. After the incident, the man went to Wesley privately and told him he had been living on parsnips and water for several weeks. He explained that before his conversion, he had run up many bills. Now, by skimping on everything and buying nothing for himself he was paying off his creditors one by one. "Christ has made me an honest man," he said, "and so with all these debts to pay, I can give only a few offerings above my tithe. I must settle up with my worldly neighbors and show them what the grace of God can do in the heart of a man who was once dishonest." Wesley then apologized to the man and asked his forgiveness.
We don’t always know why people make the decisions they do, what shaped them. Some people come through tough circumstances. Who am I to say why people make the decisions they do. Once in a while I am given an inkling of insight. A person in this community makes a lot of spiteful decisions, destructive, sometimes seems to relish in hurting others. I don’t know why. Some people like drama. One day several months ago, I happen to be in the right place at the right time, and this person opened up to me about her background, her family, her struggles. She had no reason whatsoever to tell me. I still don’t understand her decisions, and she sometimes seems to purposefully hurt others, but I have a bit of compassion for her. Only God fully knows the human heart. I’m not giving up. If I went through what this woman went through, I don’t know that I would even have faired half as well as her. I don’t like her actions always, but I know she struggles and wants to be different. I am not going to give up. I want her to know God’s kind, tolerant and patient judgment, so she can change. The only way to change is through a fair and honest judgment, and because we are stubborn, God in his mercy, is kind, tolerant and patient.
In order to accept others as equally needing God’s kind judgment, you begin by looking at yourself. One of the wonderful themes running through the book of Romans: we are all equally unequal before God. This passage emphasizes that truth. None of us deserve his patient, tolerant and kind judgment, yet there he is, ready to mold and shape those who are willing to submit to him and turn their life over to the Lord Jesus Christ.
God’s Judgment is ultimate and God’s judgment is Good!
I reject judgmentalism -- the kind of judgment that compares me to you, the kind that sets up unfair standards without really knowing the full situation, the kind of judgment in which we pompously think we know the mind of God, or think God likes me better than you. This scripture is about a better kind of judgment. God is the ultimate judge. Rom. 2:2 .
Romans 2:4 describes God’s judgment as kind. Good and proper judgment should be welcomed. It should be welcomed from friends who have the courage to tell us when we are wrong, who have the guts to correct us, for those of you who are married, this is no joke, you want to hold each other accountable, if you cannot accept correction, input from your spouse then you need more maturity in your relationship. If you cannot give good judgment to your spouse, then you need to find out how… We are wise to listen to corrective judgment. When I was in high school, I was a distance runner, as a freshman, at Mt. Baker Chris Vilani was a senior, a legendary runner at the time who won probably close to 15 state championships, one particular meet he took me aside and gave me some pointers to become a better runner… that’s a form of judgment. It is corrective for those who listen. God’s judgment is kind, for that is the only way we can grow. Tolerant, which means God loves us in spite of our behavior. Patient, complete transformation doesn’t happen overnight, but can take a lifetime. The good judgment of God is the only way we can grow, mature, become more like Christ. We want the Lord to sift us through the purifying fires of judgment, to correct our sins. What could be more kind?
As I grasp God’s good and righteous judgment, my circle will open up to include more and more people who are less and less like me. Is it ok if I brag a bit about our church? SACC has had hundreds of loving and caring people helping others without making judgments. A few weeks ago at Pauline Nims memorial service, I was a kid at the time, I learned Pauline often would get in her car and take somebody food or help or whatever they needed, trying to make a difference. Whatever we are doing in today’s church that is helpful is nothing new.
For me, the ultimate example of embracing an unlovable person by the world’s standards is deaf and dumb Mary, a title of endearment with no derogatory intention. Mary has no idea the inspiration she has brought me over the years. Mary walked across the line, especially on potluck Sunday back in the 70’s, she always wore a heavy yellow coat, she smelled, she rarely smiled, and how many times my father would drive her home and the border guards would see it was Mary and wave us on through, and I sat by Mary, month after month, year after year, and Mary found a home, accepted…
May we cast the same wide net…. saying yes to all who are searching for purpose, regardless of background, how they look, how they present themselves…
God’s good Judgment Leads to Repentance
The purpose of judgment is intended to lead you to repentance? (Rom. 2:4) Rom. 2:5-10 sea-saws between two responses: some reject God’s judgment, others accept.
A. some refuse to repent 5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” Most people do not want to repent, no intention of changing. I love helping people, but I don’t know what to do with people who don’t grow, don’t change…this is where God’s judgment is kind, tolerant and patient. God does not give up on people, and unless a person does not welcome me, I will not give up either.
B. Some seek righteousness. 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. God does not demand immediate perfection. The seeking after God is most important. God accepts all seek him, not what we attain, but our gradual transformation as we allow the Lord to change us. If we fall, the Lord picks us up. This fits with God’s judgment as being patient as he waits, “he does not grow tired or weary”, but he waits. This is why a spirit of judgmentalism has no place in the church, because only God knows the human heart; we do not know the personal demons, the internal struggles of others, and how God is working.
A. some refuse to repent 8But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; God allows us to reject his judgment and refuse his Spirit. I have often thought the punishment of sin is the natural results of rejecting God. If you don’t want to live God’s way, God will let you do it, but you make your own bed. “trouble and distress” is another way of saying, drama. No peace.
B. Some seek righteousness. 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. The peace of God is the reward for those who submit to his judgment. An implicit acceptance and recognition that life is good and God is good. Be thankful for the Lord’s kindness, tolerance, and patience; he endures our sins and and transforms us bit by bit into his image.
The Bottom Line: 11 For God does not show favoritism. It’s your choice, God respects your decision. All are invited. We begin with a look at ourselves, and be amazed that God never gave up on us, and understand the same privilege is extended to all. May we cast a wide net of acceptance, and let God work in the hearts of those in our community. If God accepted me, he will accept anyone. Some will reject, but I believe we are going to see more and more people accept God’s kind, tolerant and patient judgment, so that people will be changed and transformed, to the glory and honor of God.