“Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:1-4 ESV emphasis mine).
There are two distinct and polarizing camps in Christianity, both extremes. The majority of us fill in the gradient between them.
The first camp is judgmental, focusing on the sins of others; or else they are completely focused on their own sinfulness and are consumed by guilt. This camp sees God strictly as a judge, and everything from the words that come out of their mouths to their evangelism is predicated upon this view. Outward holiness is the focus. They have lost sight of grace; they forget that God is also their Father. This group is pharisaical in nature, washing “the outside of the dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence (Matthew 23:25 ESV).
The second camp, which will make up the majority of this post, lies at the other extreme. These are the people who profess to be Christians, but their lives speak differently. They are Christians when it is advantageous to be so; but indistinguishable from the world at all other times. I’ll be the first to admit that there have been times, particularly at work, when my faith was unrecognizable.
It is so easy to become “entangled in civilian pursuits” (2 Timothy 2:4 ESV) and forget about Him who called us to live as those set apart for the Gospel. Perhaps we think that we stand a better chance at winning the lost if our lifestyles more closely resemble theirs. However, if we live like the world, why would those of the world feel a need to change? I’ve heard so many stories, on the other hand, of people who have given their hearts to the Lord because they recognize that there is “something different” about a believer’s life.
Or perhaps we have become too focused on the grace of God that we think it’s alright to live as we like. After all, God is a God of grace, He understands that I’m going to make mistakes. That is true enough! But when we live like the world, we cease making mistakes and make choices. Yes, God will forgive us if we repent; but repentance means change. God’s grace is not a vending machine!
God hates sin. Though we may think that God is no longer a judge, we mistake His patience for acceptance. We “presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead [us] to repentance.”
God reminds us in His word, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2 ESV).
Blessings on your day!