This passage basically is in two sections -- God's Wrath and the Jews and the Law. But the summary for us today seems to be, will you live as you say you are?
Verses 1-16 teach us that the wrath of God is supreme. He is the judge, period. But how often do we act as judge and jury of others when we are committing sin against the Father? (See 2:1-4) God's reward is going to come on all men "who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality...." (2:7)
The second part reminds us that we must live under the law but more importantly, under the circumcision of the heart. (vs 12-29) Our lives must be examples, not talking heads. We have to model the law to uphold it.
I was raised in the church. I know the lingo. I know the theology. I know the doctrine. But the question is do I model what I teach? Am I living in the physical circumcision or in the circumcision of the heart? And if I am living the law only, then I am judging others who are not following the law and missing the entire objective myself.
What is that objective? To love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and to love my neighbor as myself. (Mark 12:30-31 paraphrased) That life involves living under the law with the power of the heart in action. I cannot straddle the two; they must be a joint venture. One without the other makes me either a pharisee or a hippy. I can't be bound alone by law, and in the same vein I can't just be spreading meaningless "love." I can only live out the powerful love of our Lord while living under His direction.
And both of these practices - living the law and living in love must be covered by grace. It is through grace that I see my own unworthiness and am humbled. And in that humility, I can extend grace to others who are also unworthy rather than burdening them with judgment. Judging others will only bring destruction to them and to myself. Living by grace does not condone their actions any more than it condones my sin. But grace allows us to love others within their sin. And maybe, just maybe, they will turn from their sin because they have seen love and grace lived out through me.
Lord, guide me to walk under Your laws and live under Your grace with an open heart to others who are just as broken as I am. So be it.
- What does living under the law truly mean?
- Define grace with Scripture.
- Examine your heart - has it been circumcised? What is standing in the way?