March 23, 2011 - Spiritual Tattletales

March 23, 2011 – Spiritual Tattletales
Pastor Karen Troxler

Romans 1:28-2:11

I find it interesting how well children know the “rules” of proper behavior, that is, as they apply to others! Put more than one child in a room playing together, and the adult(s) in charge will have a steady stream of children coming to report the infractions of the other children. When playing alone, it is humorous to listen to a child reprimanding their doll or stuffed animal, and putting it on time-out for breaking a rule. While it demonstrates the child’s understanding of proper behavior, there is a disconnect between that and the child relating it to their own behavior. We can smile at the shortsightedness of children, but it is no laughing matter, when we adults do the same thing.

We shake our heads and frown at the sinfulness of others, and may even tell God about it, as if He doesn’t already know. Then we rationalize our own sinful behavior because, “at least we’re not as bad as ‘those people.’” The list of sins in verses 29-30, however, is not in any order. All of the sins fall under Paul’s description of “every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity.” The lack of order suggests that they are all equal in severity in God’s eyes.

It is easy to judge those who do the “big sins,” but harder to realize that we are not morally superior because we may not do them. In fact, the very act of judging others puts us on “the list,” because when we do so, we are being arrogant and boastful. When we examine ourselves in comparison to God’s righteousness, we all fall well short of the mark.

The Lenten Season is a time to reflect on the merciful act of Jesus to provide us freedom from these and other sins, including sins that we might consider insignificant. No sin is insignificant, however, but thankfully, Jesus’ mercy and grace extends to all. As we think about Jesus’ love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness to us, let us ask His help to extend the same toward others.

Dear God, when I am tempted to judge others harshly, please remind me that apart from your grace, I stand condemned. Instead of criticizing others, help me to pray for them and to offer them my love and friendship. May your love be shown to them through me.
In your Holy name, I pray. Amen.