In the first couple of chapters of Romans, Paul is addressing folks who thought that being circumcised or keeping the law meant they were closer to God. Today, in modern-day America, the equivalent to his audience is the traditional christian who is struggling with judging others.
America is filled with people who think they are holier than others because they’re heterosexual or because they don’t sleep around. It’s filled with people who think they’re closer to God because they go to church or they vote republican or they do daily devotionals or they’re a ‘decent’ person.
Lemme summarize Romans 1-2 for you: There are sinners out there; lots of them. In fact, every single person who breathes air in the next ten seconds will refuse to give God the fullness of the worship He is due.
There are folks out there that have no interest in knowing God. They have refused to know Him, refused to hear from Him, refused to trust Him. There are others out there who do know Him, who do hear from Him, and constantly tell everyone who will listen: trust Him!
So here’s the question: whose disobedience dishonors God more?
Everyone alive refuses to trust God on a daily basis. Some of us do that without ever knowing we’re doing it. But others of us, hear from Him, meet with Him, proclaim our allegiance to Him, and THEN refuse to trust Him.
Let’s say you have two kids. Both of them take a pen off your desk. One of them had a sense they weren’t supposed to do that, but you hadn’t overtly explained it to them. But the other one has been clearly instructed not to do that. You’ve spent time explaining to that kid why that pen has to stay there and communicating that this is an area where you really need them to trust you. They look at you and tell you they understand, and then they take the pen anyway. Let me ask you this: which kid dishonors you more?
Our Dad has made His rules clearer to us who are called by His name. He’s told us in His Word how trustworthy He is and He’s proved to us in the Cross that He will come through for us. So, when we refuse to trust Him it’s pretty dishonoring.
Don’t mistake me: there’s no distinction. We’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Nobody is closer or further to God based on their own sin or lack of sin.
But if you and I are going to start judging others, and if Christians are going to start talking about how worried they are that our country may not be reflecting God clearly because of all the ‘sinners’ out there, I suggest we stop condemning those who don’t know God and start examining our own hearts.
The responsiblity to bring honor to God’s name, the pressure to reflect Him to the world, has always been one entrusted to those who are called by His name.
Every time we judge others it indicates that we believe our knowledge of Him is something we earned, something that somehow makes us better. May it never be. If we understand the Gospel we will know that the new heart that came to us and enabled us to worship God is a gift that we received despite ourselves, not because we were more deserving. We get the privilege of walking with God and knowing His will now, and that isn’t something that elevates us to judge others. It’s something that should humble us and lead us to call out for more grace and mercy.