Mercy, Judgment, and Renewal

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgement do the same things.  Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth.  So when you, a mere human being, 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, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

Romans 2:1-4 (NIV)

We are not born as merciful people.  As part of our renewal process, we must be in practice of showing mercy and be mindful of resisting judgment of others and condemnation.  When I reflect on my life, it is often the temptations that I struggle against that I am most judgmental of in others.  Sometimes when I ask God to transform me and create in me a merciful heart, I feel shame for not living a life of mercy in the first place, supposing that I should already be a merciful person.  What?!  Since when are we naturally good people?!  No, we must remember that we were not deserving of salvation, but it is because of God’s rich grace that Jesus Christ has redeemed us and called us to be His own.

It’s okay and it’s right to ask God to transform us.  In 2 Corinthians 3:18, Paul says our transformation into the Lord’s likeness is being worked out.  We are in need of renewal.  Yes, when we confess Jesus as our Lord, our spirit is made alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:4-5, Romans 10:9).  But our mind, our will, and our emotions must be continually brought into submission that we may honor Christ.  We are to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).  The way we resist adopting the patterns of this world is to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).  In 2 Corinthians 4:16, Paul tells us that our renewal is a day by day process.  Likewise, in Colossians 3:10, he explains that our new self is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.  It’s not a one-time phenomenon never to be dealt with again.  It’s on-going.  It’s a sacrifice on our part to become more like the One who sacrificed it all for us.  The good work began in us was started by God, and He will develop, perfect, and carry it on to full completion until the day of Christ Jesus–right up to the time of His return (Philippians 1:6).

This kindness, tolerance, and patience that God has shown us is the same kindness, tolerance, and patience He shows to others.  And it’s this very kindness that brings us to repentance in the first place and that allows us to fix our eyes on Jesus and follow Him.  So rather than harboring bitter thoughts of judgment and even praying God’s justice and punishment on those we judge, let’s allow His grace to flow through us and pray that God’s kindness will bring them to repentance, just as it did us, a wretched sinner.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-of whom I am the worst.  But for that very reason, I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.  Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever.  Amen

1 Timothy 1:15-17 (NIV)

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