It was clear in Romans 1 that the world's in quite a big mess and that people really need the gospel of Jesus to fix the root problem. But what about people whose lives don't look very messy? Do they need the gospel too? Or will they get along ok without it?
In Romans 2:1-11 Paul moves to address this very question by turning his attention the person who is so busy applauding God's judgement of wicked people that they fail to notice their own shortcomings which place them firmly in the same boat.
If the pot was rather enjoying the close up shot of the kettle's charred exterior, Paul pans the lens over to the pot itself to highlight its very own blackened base, which is in for the same treatment. Paul's conclusion is that all people who've sinned, no matter how superior they think they are, face God's future judgement because God judges impartially, on the basis of people's deeds.
So what does this mean for us? Before we jump into rebuking ourselves for our own finger pointing (right as that may be in general), we should take a moment to ask what Paul is aiming to achieve by telling us this. We've seen already that Paul is writing to Christians, yet here he is highlighting the problem of people who have "hard and impenitent hearts" (Romans 2:5) and who think they don't deserve God's judgement, ie people who have neither understood nor responded to the very basics of the gospel.
Well if Paul's aim isn't to rebuke us, what is it? We find a clue if we go back to the starting point for his big argument (Romans 1:16-17). Paul is persuading us of how great and how necessary the gospel is by showing us how absolutely nobody can survive without it. He is saying that everybody, pots and kettles alike, are facing God's wrath on the day of God's judgement, and therefore everybody needs the gospel.
If we miss Paul's aim in writing, we won't be as amazed by the gospel as we should be. Why not spend some time allowing this truth to increase your amazement at the gospel? Here are some questions to get you started:
- How would you answer someone who said to you that they're a pretty good person so really would prefer it if you didn't patronise them by suggesting that they need Jesus?
- How has this passage given you a bigger view of the gospel?