Romans 2.17-29 – Carrots and peas

I want you to imagine going to the supermarket and buying some tins of food. Even if you never buy food in tins you can still imagine this…so you go to the supermarket and you think “What I need now is a tin of peas”, so you buy your peas, get home, open the tin to eat them for your lunch and find that you’ve actually bought a tin of carrots. I know, carrots are fresh and delicious and better not bought in tins, but, shock, your tin of peas is actually a tin of carrots. How would you feel? This tin is labelled peas, but it’s actually carrots.

You bought it in good faith, but the outer label doesn’t match the inner goods. 

Today Paul is writing as much to the Romans, 

17 But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God 18 and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; 19 and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law dishonour God by breaking the law. 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

25 For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. 26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

Just as calling yourself a tin of peas if you are actually a tin of carrots is wrong, so is calling yourselves a Jew if you actually aren’t, says Paul (vv.17-24). He says that if your outer label says something that your inner goods are not, our label is meaningless (v.25), and that, in reality, if our inner goods are right, correct, and proper, then our outer label will be regarded as right, correct, and proper, regardless of what it said previously (vv.26-27). 

As soon as we call ourselves Christians, followers of Jesus, or believers, we have a label to live up to. Sadly, when we inevitably don’t due to our inherent human nature we tarnish the label. Think how sad you were when you opened the peas and saw carrots…But, instead, we should be focused on what is inside, our inner goods. The inner goods receive praise not from man but from God, and He will change our label accordingly.

We focus on the inner person, which is being renewed day by day to conform to the image of Jesus.

Point to ponder – Does my outer label match my inner goods?

Prayer – Father, help me to focus on being a believer, on being a follower, on being a disciple. Help me today to think of this first and foremost, to live a life of righteousness that brings only glory to You and Your name. I pray that my actions match my words, and my deeds match my claims. Amen.

Amos 5.16-20 – Live the life we claim we do

Yesterday we saw that due to our own sinful, human nature and how it is manifest in the world (cause), this puts distance in the relationship between God and ourselves (curse), but that there is One way to be reconciled to God; Jesus (cure).

Today Amos turns his attention to those who claim to be wanting the cure, but in actual fact seeing as they never turn away from their cause, they actually still have their curse.

16 Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, the Lord:

“In all the squares there shall be wailing,

   and in all the streets they shall say, ‘Alas! Alas!’

They shall call the farmers to mourning

   and to wailing those who are skilled in lamentation,

17 and in all vineyards there shall be wailing,

   for I will pass through your midst,”

says the Lord.

18 Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord!

   Why would you have the day of the Lord?

It is darkness, and not light,

19     as if a man fled from a lion,

   and a bear met him,

or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall,

   and a serpent bit him.

20 Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light,

   and gloom with no brightness in it?

Basically, then, people of the day were claiming to want the Lord to come and judge the nations, they wanted the Day of the Lord, they wanted Him to come…now! On the surface, not a bad thing to want, right?

How often nowadays do we come across people who say things like

“Oh, thank God!”,

“Praise the Lord!”,

“Oh my God!”,

“Jesus Christ!”,

“Only God can judge me!”…

Again, on the surface, these are Christian-sounding words and phrases, aren’t they? But, when spoken by someone whose life clearly does not match the words they are saying, they lose all credibility and you begin to wonder if they really have any grasp on what they are saying…if they truly understand what they are saying.

If I started going on and on about PhD level physics, you would know that I had no grasp of things like how in Newtonian physics, the circular orbit of two gravitationally bound mass objects is a stable configuration…

In the same way, when people are claiming Christ but not living the life, when here we read of people desiring the day of the Lord, we are confused; why would you want that when your life shows you should not really want that?

Amos writes – for those who are not living in the will, way, and Word of our Lord

Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light, and gloom with no brightness in it?

The point for us is this; if we claim Christ as our personal Lord and Saviour, our lives should attest to this, our conduct should show this, our character should say this for us. Then, when we call on His name, when we hasten His coming, and when we look ahead to His return, we are assured through the promise of His Word that this is something to look forward to. 

Point to ponder today – do my claims and calls match my words and ways? Or am I saying and doing things that are in opposition to the upward call of God in Christ?