God's Judgment Is Fair
1 Some of you accuse others of doing wrong. But there is no excuse for what you do. When you judge others, you condemn yourselves, because you are guilty of doing the very same things. 2We know that God is right to judge everyone who behaves in this way. 3Do you really think God won't punish you, when you behave exactly like the people you accuse? 4 You surely don't think much of God's wonderful goodness or of his patience and willingness to put up with you. Don't you know that the reason God is good to you is because he wants you to turn to him?
5But you are stubborn and refuse to turn to God. So you are making things even worse for yourselves on that day when he will show how angry he is and will judge the world with fairness. 6 God will reward each of us for what we have done. 7He will give eternal life to everyone who has patiently done what is good in the hope of receiving glory, honor, and life that lasts forever. 8But he will show how angry and furious he can be with every selfish person who rejects the truth and wants to do evil. 9All who are wicked will be punished with trouble and suffering. It doesn't matter if they are Jews or Gentiles. 10But all who do right will be rewarded with glory, honor, and peace, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. 11 God doesn't have any favorites!
12Those people who don't know about God's Law will still be punished for what they do wrong. And the Law will be used to judge everyone who knows what it says. 13God accepts those who obey his Law, but not those who simply hear it.
14Some people naturally obey the Law's commands, even though they don't have the Law. 15This proves that the conscience is like a law written in the human heart. And it will show whether we are forgiven or condemned, 16when God appoints Jesus Christ to judge everyone's secret thoughts, just as my message says.
Just the other day, when I was driving on the highway, someone abruptly cut in front of me, and I had to brake to avoid an accident. I don’t need to tell you what I felt at that moment. But then I remembered that I had done just the same thing to someone else only a few days previously. Of course, there was a good reason why I did what I did then, or so I reasoned to myself.
On a more serious note, what went through your mind when you read that awful catalogue of sins yesterday? Were you angry or disgusted at people who live that way? Did you thank God that you are not like those people, “foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless” (1:31 ESV). Or did you gloss over that list, which after all is describing other people?
Did you protect yourself by stubbornly refusing to see these sins in yourself? Are you still in denial? You are making things worse for yourself (v 5). Remember Jesus’ story about the two men who went to pray in the Temple? (Luke 18:10-14).
We delude ourselves if we think that we are not guilty of these things. We delude ourselves if we think that God won’t really judge us. (After all, we reason, he is a God of love.) We don’t want judgment – except for pedophiles, people who commit war crimes, people who are racist and bigoted (and the person who cut in front of me when I was driving).
What a double standard!
We forget that God is not like so many of us. When he is angry he is not like a person with a bitter heart who is taking it out on someone. He is not like a person with a short fuse who loses his temper. He is not like the alcoholic who is angry with the whole world.
He is wholly good. He is just. Sin makes him angry. And yes, he does love us.
I cry out to you for forgiveness, Lord, for the times I refuse to see my sin. Help me to be honest and truthful before you. Help me to see how vast is your forgiveness. Thank you for loving me, a sinner. Amen.