Ouch! That hurt! It wouldn’t have hurt anymore if he’d actually hit me with his fists. He had confronted me with the reality that my words had so offended his friend that that friend didn’t want anything to do with God anymore. Oh No!
I was young and foolish (of course now I’m old and foolish, but, oh well), and I had tried to explain why a certain tragedy had happened to his family. I said that they had brought this tragedy on themselves because they weren’t “under God’s protection.” What a stupid thing to say to someone who is hurting!
To be sure, we do bring things on ourselves by our choices, but to suggest to this hurting family that God would have protected them but He chose not to since they weren’t on His “side” at the moment. I repent!
Look at our lesson today in Romans 2:14-28:
BRETHREN, when the Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. But if you call yourself a Jew and rely upon the law and boast of your relation to God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed in the law, and if you are sure that you are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth – you then who teach others, will you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” Circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law; but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then those who are physically uncircumcised but keep the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For he is not a real Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical.
Paul tells these Romans that when any human, even a human not blessed with the wisdom of the truth given to God’s people, does what is right, he proves that God’s wisdom is in the hearts of men, if they would only follow it.
Unfortunately, Paul was dealing with his own tribe of people who had, actually, had centuries of spiritual advantage in having the wisdom of God revealed to them through Moses and the Prophets. To be sure, God gave this treasure to the Jews precisely for the reason of having them share it with the world, be an example to the world of a society shaped by God’s wisdom, and be a blessing to the whole world through their sharing this wisdom with everyone.
But, instead, they allowed their treasure to become a source of spiritual pride and arrogance. They made what was meant for everyone, a badge of pride exclusively belonging to them and they allowed their shortsighted pride to turn them into something they were never meant to be! Paul plainly speaks to them in such a way that there is no doubt where they went wrong. They boast of having the revealed wisdom of God but then never keep it. However, those who didn’t have such a blessing prove the Jews have no reason for arrogant, ethnic pride because these gentiles are keeping the Law without having the benefits of the Law. Paul calls these faithful Gentiles “a law to themselves.”
Today, God loves the whole world. Every person, regardless of their skin color, their national origins, their education or their economic status, is valued beyond worth by God. The only purpose for Him giving His wisdom to anyone, any tribe, any nation, is so that blessed people will share it, live it, and show it to everyone else by being Orthodox on Purpose.