June 19, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Romans 2)

Submitted by Richard L. from Gracepoint San Diego Church

Romans 2

REFLECTION Questions

Romans 2:4-5

“We, too, can ‘show contempt’ for God’s kindness toward us by using it as an ‘open season’ for sin […] We grow cavalier toward our sin because we think God will simply overlook it out of his love for us in Christ.”

  • What is it about human nature that would respond to “kindness, tolerance and patience” with “contempt?”

It’s pride. The human condition is characterized by pride. And so when we see acts of kindness, tolerance and patience, we somehow view that through the lens of pride and regard those acts as weak, submissive, and passive. And we assume there is no difference between these perspectives. We inherently want to advance, to overcome, to control, to have the last word, to make our points known, to win the so-called race of a lifetime where we exploit the weaknesses of others, and regard all acts of humility as foolish and distasteful.

  • Why would God’s “kindness, tolerance and patience” lead to repentance in some and not in others?

God’s character can lead some to repentance and some to reject God based out of how a person sees themselves and if they can put down their pride. When these guards are down, a real picutre of the broken, insecure, shriveled-hearted person emerges. When a person sees himself with this reality, an image similar to Gollum of The Lord of the Rings, hunched and disfigured emerge.  He is able to see and  utter truths about himself. “I’m messed up. I’m broken. There’s something internally wrong about my heart, about my mind. I am struck with the reality that I’m not as confident as I thought I should be. I’m actually a hypocrite. I’m a coward. I’m foolish. I’m inconsistent with my words and deeds. I’ve been in rebellion against God.” And recognizing who he is and the realization that God has a rightful claim over his life, then such a person will align his actions to reflect these realities which leads to repentance.

  • As I look back on my life, do I agree that God has been kind, tolerant and patient to me?

I can’t help but think of the many times in my life in which I cringe at the thought of the many people that I’ve hurt and the self-centered demands I’ve placed on others. I think of the times in which I held grudges against my friends when I felt slighted. I think about the times in which I lied, or remained suspicious of others who were inquisitive. The list goes on. I think about how I’ve translated this also to my relationship with God. That though knowing what is right and wrong, I stubbornly refuse to obey and continuously remain rebellious against God, and against authority. All the while assuming that I have some claim on God. That God should answer me the way I expect him to. With a self-centered, self-absorbed person like myself, I am amazed that God hasn’t outright punished me. Instead, I’m amazed at how God continuously led me from youth to a point in college where I finally realized that I was living life like the prodigal son. And yet God brought me into a church and community that loved and accepted me. I heard messages and experienced genuine love relationships with friends and leaders who got into my life, and were willing to take risks to point out my sins. And all so that I can repent and be restored into a loving relationship with God. And as if that were not enough, God has given me a rich purpose – to love others into his kingdom. Wow! Absolutely, God has been tolerant of me! God has been so kind and personal to me. I am so thankful that I am a daily recipient of God’s patience.

  •  Why does it make sense that “stubbornness” and an “unrepentant heart” should be met with “God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed?”

This is appropriate that an unrepentant heart be met with God’s wrath because God cannot be untrue to his character of love. Love demands this recognition of truth. When a pouting son refuses to say sorry, the loving parent exhorts him to acknowledge his wrong; and when he continues to refuse, there will be wrath–not because the parent is on a power trip but rather because the parent wants the child to mature, to recognize that his behavior was wrong and unacceptable. This is love. It would be more unloving for God to simply allow the stubborn heart to be left alone.

Romans 2:13, 17-29

  • Reflect on the exhortation to live out what we preach.  What are some ways in which discrepancy exists between what I say and what I do
  • How does failing to demonstrate in real life the values that I profess cause “God’s name [to be] blasphemed” among non-believers?

I’m always challenged by the fact that it’s easy to love others when it’s convenient to my schedule or when there’s no cost to me. But, when I’m just slightly busy, or when I’m tired, or when I feel entitled to my own schedule, loving others, and putting their needs first becomes my last priority. I think it’s evident in my attitude, it’s written on my face, and that’s when the rubber meets the road, in regards to my commitment and so-called love for people and willingness to sacrifice. So I have my justifications for why I can be unloving. But the world longs to see genuine Christians loving others, embracing the world, having the emotional resilience to struggle with others. The world wants to see if this is possible. And when I indulge in my fears and justify myself, God’s honor, his name is disregarded.

Submitted by Jessica C. from Gracepoint San Diego Church

Romans 2

In the second half of Chapter 1, Apostle Paul spells out the utter sinful condition of mankind—the ways in which they degraded themselves, “exchanged the truth of God for a lie,” and became “filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity” as well as many other horrible sins listed.  With this in mind, the first words of Chapter 2 stood out to me and made me pause—“You, therefore, have no excuse…” Just in case the people to whom Apostle Paul wrote this letter were feeling smug about themselves, he brings each and every person to the humbling truth about themselves—“…you who pass judgment do the same things” (v.2).  Honest reflection of the self within brings a proper sense of sobriety and humility regarding their own sinful condition.  This call to reflect, look within and reflect gets repeated throughout this chapter, not only when we pass judgment on others, but also when we brag about the law, when we embrace our identity as a guide, a light, an instructor, a teacher, and yet we do not allow the truths that we teach others to teach ourselves.

This has direct implications on how I need to approach my Christian life and ministry.  While it is true that ministry is about teaching, leading and guiding others, I need to remember that ministry is for me to see myself more clearly.  As I counsel and pray for various people, those have been opportunities for me to see myself in them, their sins becoming my own sins that I become more desperate to repent of.  Many times, it’s been humbling that as I think about some struggle that someone is going through, I end up not only praying for that person but for myself as well.  Each person I minister to or pray for brings up some facet of my sinful heart that maybe I was not as disturbed or urgent to repent of.  Through this, I realized that when I see examples of brokenness and depravity in this world, or when I counsel others and am burdened by the brokenness and grip of sin in their lives, the responsibility falls upon me to not only be grieved by what I see in others, but to then take that extra step of looking within and owning up to the same sins in my own heart.  I need to have a humble attitude with which I approach doing ministry, because I see how it’s not about what I’m able to do for others.  Rather, the picture of ministry that I need to be brought back to is one of broken sinners leading other broken sinners.  Solely judging others without applying that same set of judgment on myself would be wrong, and in this sense, “show contempt” to God.  It doesn’t matter whether I’ve been Christian for 12 years now, and have been actively involved in church and ministry for awhile. Whatever “credentials” I’ve been able to gather over the years has not altered the makeup of who I am.  I am a “mere man,” and a rotten sinner.  That is who I have been, am today and will be tomorrow.  And yet, somehow I’ve been given this incredible, undeserved opportunity to be used by God in being part of His work.  As James and I prepare to join our church in Austin, this is a relevant message that I think God wants for me to take to heart–that it’s not about what I’ll be able to do or contribute to the Austin ministry.  But rather, by us moving and joining the ministry there, this is another good opportunity for me to know myself more, to reflect, to “judge” myself, to grow in greater depth of knowledge of who I am as a sinner…and through this, come to deeper, sweeter marvel and appreciation of “his kindness, tolerance and patience” in my life.

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