Meditations in Romans : 25 : Contemptuous?
Rom 2:3,4 So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?
The trouble with life is that it is so easy to jump to wrong conclusions about God. If you read the book of Job you find Job’s three friends jumping to the conclusion that all his misfortunes were the judgment of God on his sin, but the truth was that God had declared him righteous and the misfortunes were simply a test. Now I say this because so often silly people jump to the conclusion either that there is no God or that he is impotent, because they see so little of His corrective activity. The sinful man doesn’t realise that God is holding out a hand to him to save him, and because he doesn’t see God moving to deal with and stop him sinning, he is contemptuous of God’s inactivity and so carries on sinning even more. Wrong assessment of God, friend!
In the previous meditation we considered the danger of pointing fingers at other people and judging them for being less than perfect. We did stray into verse 3 and recognise that we are in trouble if we do that when we ourselves do similar things to those Paul listed, if not actually some of them. We did observe our inability to live completely righteous lives and therefore the folly of judging others when we are just the same.
So now we move on a little bit from that and consider in more detail the second folly, that of being contemptuous of God’s grace and mercy, for that is what it is when we disdain God’s restraint in respect of us. This restraint of God has always been a stumbling block to people. We see it in the book of Job when even Job himself falls into the trap of wondering why bother being righteous when God seems to let sinners get away with it.
In fact so big a problem is it to some that even the apostle Peter weighs in on this subject when he says, “By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Pet 3:7-9). Yes, says Peter, there is coming a day of judgment when God will wind everything up on the earth but don’t be confused by the fact that God is waiting for this day; it is just that He is giving you every opportunity to come to repentance and be saved.
Now do you see that last bit? That is exactly the same as Paul is saying when he speaks of people, “not realizing that God’s kindness leads you to repentance.” That is what God is working for, our repentance. Repentance simply means a one hundred and eighty degree turnabout. We have been living self-centred, unrighteous lives and He is waiting for us to come to our senses and do an about turn to seek after godly and righteous lives. That is why He is waiting and not bringing destructive judgment on you. Merely because you seem to be getting away with it for the moment, don’t think that you are safe! You’re just being given breathing space in which God wants you to come to your senses and see the hopelessness of your godless situation and turn to Him for salvation that he wants to bring through His Son, Jesus Christ.
This is the frightening thing about life before God who looks on and sees all that we do. In His grace, instead of striking us down, He gives us this awesome responsibility of taking decisions for our lives, decisions that can take us further and further away from Him and further and further towards destruction. And what is even more scary is our apparent blindness while this is happening; we fail to observe the symptom of sin and its effects and we take for granted the fact that we feel miserable or depressed, that we seem to always be striving to achieve self-worth, that we seem to always be at odds with other people, that we are having money problems, sex problems, health problems and indeed, problems in every area of life. We don’t realise that these things are NOT natural, are not part of the lives that God has designed us to live, but are symptoms or effects of the sin that drives self ever deeper into these things. We seem utterly blind to these things!
And all the while, there in the background is God’s “kindness, tolerance and patience” that continues to desire good for you. All the while He is giving you free reign to do your own thing in the desire that you will eventually realise that ‘doing your own thing’ is not the best way. In fact it just leads you down this downward slope towards ultimate destruction – and you thought you were free! No, this is God giving you space to come to your senses. How far down the slope do you have to go before that happens? If this is you, it’s time to stop and take stock of your folly and come to your senses. You’re heading for destruction but God wants something wonderful for you – to bring His blessing into your life, to call you a child of God with an eternal destiny and a new purpose in life while still here on this earth, but that can’t come until you turn to Him. What if He calls, “Time’s up!” tomorrow. Don’t presume that His grace will last for ever. Today is a day for action.