The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
“Don’t judge!” That’s one of the battle cries of those who are confronted with sin or fear they will be. I wish their battle cry would be just a bit more nuanced. For instance, as we read in Romans 2:1-11, they could confess that we all bear sin and all need forgiving grace from God. This is a difficult dynamic.
For several years I was involved in discussions with people who wished to join the membership of a particular church congregation. One of the things the elders of the congregation would bring up is that we believe all humans are sinful by nature. We would remind the future member of the congregation what that meant. It meant that eventually they would probably sin against the elders and that the elders would eventually sin against them. Of course, we hoped it would always be restricted to “little” offenses, those which would be easily overlooked, forgiven almost before they happened. But in every life there are sins and offenses which are not so easily overlooked.
In Romans 2 we read that we are all guilty. Whatever it is that people may think of us, we are all guilty before God. What influence should that have on us? First, it makes us slow to confront others over their offenses against us. After all, we are probably guilty of many of the same offenses. On the other side of the coin, however, we realize that sin is an offense before God. It needs to be confronted so as to lead to repentance and forgiveness.
I love the custom in my church body. At the start of a church service we confess, together, before God, that we are sinful by nature. We confess our sins against God and against one another, in thought, word, deed, commission, and omission. We throw ourselves on God’s mercy and ask forgiveness. Then we receive God’s words of forgiveness and grace, an assurance that we are forgiven what we have confessed. We continue in prayer, asking the Lord to have mercy on all.
Who are we to judge? Well, in fact, much sin is pretty easy to see and identify. We might not always recognize the motive, but we can identify many of the failures. Yet God is the ultimate judge. He has judged and condemned sin through God the Son, Jesus, who died for your sins and mine. Our response, then, is to call ourselves and others to repentance, as a matter of loving correction. We are then prepared to look to Jesus as the author and finisher of our salvation.
If this brief meditation was helpful to you, I hope you will check out the other materials on our website at www.WittenbergCoMo.com and consider supporting us.