"So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?" (Romans 2:3-4)
During the winter months I looked down on my keychain and realized that I had lost the key to my Harley. I had it on one of those quick release loops so I could remove it from the rest of my keys when I wanted to go out riding. The set also had a house key on it. I looked everywhere for it, in all of my purses and pockets, but since I couldn't pinpoint the timeframe that I lost it, there was no hope of finding it.
After I had given up the search, I had to tell my husband that it was gone. I expected him to be very angry about it even though it was a accident. However, when I told him he extended leniency towards my situation and dismissed it with a shrug and a comment that 'these things happen'. I was relieved. Not only was he not angry, he was sympatric to my plight because it could have happened to anyone.
As humans, we like grace for ourselves and justice for everyone else. A lot of times we do not like to be gracious towards others. We can be quick to point our finger at everyone else while having three fingers pointed back at ourselves. Paul is reminding us in this passage not to be too quick to judge. Previously he wrote that God is the one who is the judge and His judgment is based solely on the truth. Since we are not the judge, we shouldn't be quick to step into that role.
The truth is, that God is much more ready to extend mercy to us, than we are ready to offer it to one another. In Hosea 6:6 He said, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice". The Amplified Bible puts it this way, " I desire and delight in dutiful steadfast love and goodness, not sacrifice, and the knowledge of and acquaintance with God more than burnt offerings." As with everything, God is concerned with the condition of our heart and wants them pure before him. When we extend grace towards one another then we resemble our Father in Heaven.
Lastly, Paul lets us in on a foundational truth, God is a God of kindness, tolerance and patience. He wants us to experience mercy and in the same way pass that along towards our fellow man. His goodness is what brings us to repentance. His favor along with the knowledge of Him makes us complete. In the same way that my husbands forbearance with me made me appreciate him and learn something about Him, God's mercy and grace does the same thing. When we experience this, then we know Him better and continue to move into the fullness of Christ. Today, may you experience the richness of Christ and know that His mercy is extended to you as you pass it along towards others!