God’s kindness is to lead you to daily repent and daily seek glory, honor, and immortality

A sermon preached on Romans 2:2-8 by Pastor Jonathan Werre for Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls, SD, on November 8, 2020.

www.gswels.org

The second lesson appointed for this Sunday teaches us, among other things, this lesson—it teaches us that God’s kindness is to lead you and and me to daily repent and daily seek glory, honor, and immortality in Christ, in his Word, in his Sacraments. If you want to follow along, open your Bible or bulletin to Romans 2:2-8, as we go verse-by-verse.  We start with verses 2-3.

“And we know that God’s judgment on those who do such things is based on the truth. Are you thinking that you will escape God’s judgment, you who judge those who do such things and then do the same things yourself?”

Is that what you think?  Are you thinking that you will escape God’s judgment—you who have criticized those mask wearers as sheep—as if you have never been a sheep?  criticized those non-mask wearers as unloving and selfish—as if you have never been unloving and selfish?  Are you thinking that you will escape God’s judgment—you who have criticized welfare-recipients as lazy and taking money, paid for by the taxpayers, that they haven’t earned—as if you have never been lazy, as if your cashing of the government stimulus check which you did not earn and which will ultimately be paid for by the taxpayers was really any different? Are you thinking that you will escape God’s judgment—your who have criticized people who cheat on their spouses but have committed adultery in your own heart through the sin of lust, as Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount? “Are you thinking that you will escape God’s judgment, you who judge those who do such things and then do the same things yourself?”

Verse 4– Or do you have so little regard for God’s rich kindness, his restraint, and his patience, that you ignore the fact that the purpose of God’s kindness is to lead you to repentance? 

When God is kind, he is taking a risk.  When he blesses you with a job promotion, with a headache free day, with beautiful weather like we’ve been having–when God is being kind to you, he is taking a great risk.  The risk is that, as soon as things start going our way, we assume that God is happy with me, not because of Christ, but because of me, because I am working so hard or because I am so organized or because at least I am trying my best.  But the reality is, even the blessings we have to work for, like a paycheck, are never owed to us; every blessing is a gift he wants to give to us.  But our God is so generous, so eager to give us good things, he is willing to take the risk.  Don’t make him regret it.  Instead, each day let how good he has been to you move you to scrape off your work-righteous attitude, each day, just like you do every day with a frosty windshield on cold mornings.  Because our work-righteous attitudes come back and frosts up our view of life every single day.  That’s why we need to repent every single day.  Or do you have so little regard for God’s rich kindness, his restraint, and his patience, that you ignore the fact that the purpose of God’s kindness is to lead you to repentance? 

Verse 5–“As a result of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God will reveal his righteous judgment.”

“Storing up wrath for yourself.”  For the person who does not repent of his/her sin and trust in the mercy of Christ, when the day comes when he/she must stand before God, all that anger that God has been storing up will burst like a dam.  It will be a horrible and permanent experience.

Verse 6–the scariest passage in the Bible: God “will repay each person according to what he has done”[a]

If that sentence doesn’t scare you, then when the holy angels are looking at you, they will paraphrase Star Wars and say, “The work-righteous attitude is strong with this one.”  Because the truth about even our best actions this week is this—they gross God out by all the sin clinging and dripping off of them, as Isaiah put it, “All our righteous acts are as filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:6)

But Scripture gives us another way to have God “repay each person according to what he has done”[a],   The other way centers not in us and what we have done but in the person of Jesus Christ and what he has done.  Have you ever wondered, since Jesus came to die on the cross to pay for all our sin, why Jesus didn’t just show up in our world at age 30, have a 3 year ministry, and then die on the cross?  If all he came to do was to die and pay for our sin, why bother living in this world for 30 years before he actually did that?

The reason is because he wanted to have a track record, a lifelong track record, a perfect lifelong track record, of obeying the Commandments for you and me.  This perfect, lifelong track record of obeying the 10 Commandments is what is called “the robe of Christ’s righteousness.”  And that robe is wrapped around your soul at your baptism by the Holy Spirit himself.  And it is a big, thick, soft robe that covers every inch of your soul.  So that whenever God looks at you, he sees you as someone who has a perfect track record when it comes to his Commandments.    “God will repay each person according to what he has done.”  For you who trust in Christ, God will give you what a person who has obeyed the 10 Commandments perfectly is to get—eternal life, glory, honor, and immortality.  That is his gift, earned by Christ, freely given to you at your baptism and held on to by faith.

 6-8 God “will repay each person according to what he has done”[a]— eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality by persisting in doing what is good, but furious anger to those who out of selfish ambition are disobeying what is true and obeying what is wrong. 

Eternal life, glory, honor, and immortality are gifts earned by Christ and given to us freely.  But tomorrow is a Monday and you need to get back on to your diet and there are deadlines coming up, not to mention that someone has to watch the Mandalorian to see what a baby Yoda looks like.

God’s daily kindness is to move you and me to daily live like we know that what we do is important to God—he wants to give glory and honor to our good works by washing them clean of their sin and remembering forever the good things we did, as we heard a sample of in our gospel lesson.  So let us act like what we do is important to God. Take care of your body like it matters to God, because it does.  Clean those bathrooms like it matters to God, because it does.  Enjoy that beer, watch the Vikings, have your daily devotion like it matters to God, because it does.  Daily say no to sin and yes to all those small acts of kindness maybe nobody else notices, but God does.  Let God’s kindness to you each day, the big ones and the small ones, lead you to daily repent and daily seek glory, honor, and immortality in Christ, in his Word, in his Sacraments.  Amen.