Romans 2:9-11 ~ playing favorite

Jesus_loves_your_favorite_team_tshirt-p235335271600924599trlf_400 This part of Romans is not my favorite.  So I'm trying to read it through a fresh lens.  My lens is a bit tainted with years of planks.

For instance, I'm aware that many non-church-goers or non-Christians in North American society are sick of judgmental Christians.  Too many times have Christians pointed their fingers at others in our society… only to be called out themselves, often in more dramatic circumstances of sin.  Because this section of Romans is chuck full of judgment, I am leary to spend another day posting on it.

I'm also aware that this section of Romans speaks about me… and not very flatteringly.  My name is identified with the sin-list at the end of Chapter 1.  As a person who calls himself a believer, this section of Romans calls out my plank-in-my-own-eye attitude at the beginning of Chapter 2.  And now, while Paul continues to paint a broad understanding of sin and judgment, it has become much too personal for my own comfort.  As a result, I am leary to spend another day meditating on it.

I'm also aware that the many encouraging and victorious sections of Romans are yet to come… so I'd rather just rush ahead and jump to the good parts.

But I'm wrestling with my self to continue to step through this not-my-favorite section Romans.

And today, as I ponder these verses, I'm struck with one major concept that drives deep into my ego:  "God shows no partiality."

So why do I assume he favors me more than someone else?  Why do I pray for God to help my team to win?  Why do I pray that God will always do what I want (and not that I will do what God wants)?  And why do I favor certain people (myself and people like me) over others (people not like me)?  Why do I favor certain parts of Scripture (the encouraging parts) over others (Leviticus)?  I am a partial person… God is whole.

People = doesn't matter who, same equation for every person, whether those who belong to the main team in Paul's day (Jews) and those who didn't (Greek).  Paul says flat out, if someone does evil, that person will find tribulation and distress.  Meanwhile, if someone does good, that person will find glory and honor and peace.  No matter who that person is, that's what will happen.  Because God judges each person according to what they've done.  God doesn't play favorites.

Romans 2:9-11 [NIV] ~~  9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.

*Note: Now, a skewed theological system could be developed if we only read these three verses and not the rest of Romans.  Yes, we are judged and saved by what we "do".  But at this point it's a good idea to re-read everything up to now and to re-read everything after it to understand what "doing" fully entails.  See Daniel's comment in the last post (Romans 2:5-8).  These verses fit into a context of the huge argument… and we shouldn't lose sight of that.

 

Ken Castor

Ken Castor is a husband, dad, pastor, writer and teacher. He serves as a professor at Crown College, Minnesota, where he equips students to pursue Jesus-Centered Faith and Next Generation Ministry. For 20+ years he's focused on equipping the next generations in places like the U.S., Canada, and Northern Ireland. He's the author of Grow Down (Simply Youth Ministry, 2014), Make a Difference (Broadstreet, 2016), the Blue-Letters Editor of the Jesus-Centered Bible (Group, 2015) and numerous other articles and Bible Study guides. But, whenever possible, he gets down on the floor and builds Lego with his kids. Connect with him @kencastor.

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