Monday of the Week of Lent IV
Therefore you have no excuse, O man, whoever you are, when you judge another; for in passing judgment upon him you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who do such things. Do you suppose, O man, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume upon the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not know that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? (Romans 2:1-4)
Additional Daily Bible Readings: Exodus 2; Psalm 67; Romans 2:1–29
Weekly Reading: http://bit.ly/2kQhhvX
The words of St. Paul in this passage bring to mind Jesus’ own warning, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” This is what Paul is getting at. Jesus and Paul deal with this subject because we are judgmental people. We are all too ready to judge others and jump to criticism, without thinking or considering the harm we may cause or the log in our own eye. In other words, we may be judging another while doing the very same things. Such arrogance can bring God’s wrath upon us, as we are called to forgive as we’ve been forgiven; we are to love as we have been loved; we are not to judge, lest we be judged.
Paul reminds us that because God deals with us with kindness, forbearance and patience, we are to deal similarly with others. This is always the way of God’s kingdom. When we receive God’s “riches” but do not share the same with others, we are presuming upon God’s love and mercy. In the next verses, Paul says, “by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath…” He begins this section stating, “therefore, you have no excuse!”
The most powerful words in this passage, however, are these, “Do you not know that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (verse 4b). God’s intention is not to frighten his children into repentance. God does not intend to “guilt” us into repentance. God does not threaten judgment as a motivating tool. Rather, God’s kindness toward us, God’s forbearance, God’s patience with us is that which creates in us hearts and minds which humbly, honestly repent and return to him. If God is angry and bitter toward his children, rarely will they want to come to him in confession and repentance. A merciful God, like a prodigal’s father, is always ready to receive an errant son or daughter home. A graceful, forgiving God waits with loving arms open wide to welcome the disobedient child who returns.
This is how we are to relate to others—not with judgmental, arrogant attitudes and actions, but with mercy and grace. Christ commands, “love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). God expects nothing less.
Prayer: Lord God, forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Amen.
Lenten Response: Have you had a judgmental attitude toward someone? Ask for their forgiveness.
Video Devotional: From Ashes to Easter
Today’s devotion was written by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism.