Romans 2:1-4 states: 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?
John Piper, in a message, “God’s Response to Hypocrisy: Kindness and Judgment” said,
God Is Just
God is just. When Paul says to the hypocrites in the first verse, “You have no excuse,” he shows God’s concern with justice. If these people had a legitimate excuse for their sins of judgmentalism and hypocrisy, God would be unjust to judge them. But the whole point of this passage is to do exactly what we saw Paul doing in Romans 1:20 and 32 in regard to the Gentiles. He wants to show that they are without excuse. In other words, when judgment comes from God because of sin, it will not be unjust. No one will be able to raise any legitimate objection.
So the first thing to learn about God and his response to hypocrisy is that God is just, and his just judgment is coming not only on the so-called pagan people who live in sin, but also on the moral and religious people who disdain the pagan people, while doing many things that show they don’t trust and love God. That list in 1:29-31 includes things like “greed,” “envy,” “gossip,” unloving,” “unmerciful.” Has any of us been as merciful and loving toward others as he or she ought to be?
God Is Kind
But the second thing this text tells us about God and about his response to hypocrites is that God is kind. In fact, you will notice in verse 4 that Paul speaks of the “riches of his kindness.” That means that he is not just a little bit kind, but that he has huge resources of kindness to pour out on us. In fact, he is pouring them out on us all right now.
Isn’t that the implication of the other two words Paul uses to describe God’s kindness? He uses the words “forbearance” and “patience.” In other words, God’s justice does not demand that he punish us for our sins immediately. But his kindness leads him to forbear and to be patient with us. That word “patience” in the original Greek (the language Paul wrote in) is just like the English word “longsuffering.” It means that God may endure months and years and decades of our stubbornness and resistance to repentance.
The very fact that any of us is alive today is owing to this great kindness of God. He could have been done with us many years ago and taken us away to judgment. But here we are. And this should amaze us.
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