When studying Romans 1, the reader comes to the last thirteen verses of which are subtitled, “God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness.” If you don’t already have your Bible open to Romans 1, please do so now so you can follow the context. Many books and sermons are available on this passage, however recently one verse really stood out to me:
“…Undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful…” (Romans 1:31)
The Apostle Paul could have left a parenthetical thought with the word: unChristlike.
How many pastors have you heard tell Christians that if they are undiscerning then the wrath of God is upon them because of their unrighteousness? We shouldn’t be surprised because the Bible puts a large premium on discernment, or another way of putting it, wisdom. That was King Solomon’s purpose for writing Proverbs:
“To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding.” (Proverbs 1:2)
Go back and read the beginning of our passage from Romans and understand why the unrighteous are under God’s wrath. It is because “they did not like to retain God in their knowledge.”
Understand the difference between not knowing and not wanting to retain what they already know. The former is ignorance and is no excuse; the latter is wanton disobedience, of which no one would argue against God punishing.
If you are undiscerning, should you be considered trustworthy? Would you trust an employee with your most important client if he or she did not understand the purpose of your product? Would you allow a child molester to babysit your children? Someone who is untrustworthy is someone you do not allow into your inner circle. Proverbs gives clarity on the untrustworthy:
“Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth and a foot out of joint.” (Proverbs 25:19)
Oh but Brother Dave, Solomon is talking about the unfaithful man here. Yes, and who is more unfaithful to God then the man or woman who is undiscerning and does “not like to retain God in their knowledge”?
A person who is unloving is at best a carnal Christian and at worse lost and condemned to hell. When the love of Christ is flowing through and out of our hearts, then we are displaying the outworking of Jesus’ love for us:
“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16)
The last two “uns” in Romans 1:31 are my Achilles heel: unforgiving and unmerciful. The word mercy itself means love. Mercy is one of the greatest displays of love because it is not giving someone what they deserve.
Careful of using that word deserve in your dealings with people. God may one day hold you up to the standards you set for others.
When we are merciful it is because we are forgiving. Regardless whether a person deserves your wrath or you deserve to be angry with someone, our mercy and forgiveness towards that person is an outpouring of our love for Christ.
We know from one of the first prayers we learned as children that we are to ask God to “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” To experience forgiveness, you must first forgive, even forgiving yourself. It is unhealthy to be unforgiving:
“The merciful man does good for his own soul, but he who is cruel troubles his own flesh.” (Proverbs 11:17)
There is much in my Bible that teaches me how to live the Christian life. However, looking at the list of “un” that I need to undo in my life is as good as a starting place as any.
Excuse me while I get started on my list…
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Copyright © 2015 David Jeffers