To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God. Romans 2:7-11
I lead a rather sheltered life, cloistered among church friends and family; so one of the reasons I like being a landlord is I meet people who are very different from me, and live a life that is guided by values and ideas very foreign to me. I have just spent a month working on a property that required hundreds of grueling hours fixing holes in the walls, repairing broken doors and cabinets, and cleaning filth I will spare you from describing—and this after a miserable and very costly eviction. My children sometimes ask me how I deal with being robbed and wronged by the occasional person who takes advantage of me. It is because, though it appears I am the one taking the hit for their reckless lifestyle, the fact remains that the way of the transgressor is hard.
Paul describes a simple way of life in Romans 2—patient continuance in well-doing. It seems too simple. Surely God requires more than to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly; yet for those who get up every morning with a heart turned towards serving the One who loves them, there is glory, and honor and peace. I love to think about the fact that as a child of God, He would honor me. Honor is an incredible blessing that changes all of life. To be honored is to be accepted completely as His beloved. I hear God singing over me, (Zephaniah 3:17) delighting in me (Psalm 149:4), ordering my steps (Psalm 37:23), and withholding NO good thing from my life (Psalm 84:11). My life is far from spectacular or unusual; I guess I would describe it as…well…patient continuance in well-doing. I want to please my Father. And I am lavished with supernatural glory and honor and peace just as Paul declared it would be.
These contentious people I would be tempted to punch in the nose should the opportunity arise (I’m safe—in twelve years of landlording the opportunity has never come) are living a very hard life, primarily because they live under the awful indignation of Almighty God. Tribulation and anguish stir in their souls in the night. I shudder for their pitiful condition as they run headlong into eternal destruction, both in this life, and in the life to come. Sometimes Christians mistakenly believe that everyone lives pretty much the same life here with the same opportunities and the same trials, and the reward follows death. If you live in the world with people who do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, you would know that is not true. The evil heart of man will make him a slave to God, or he will be a slave to sin. Living under the shadow of God’s indignation for the suffering he inflicts on others, for the covetousness, selfishness, lying, and impenetrable pride, he pays a monstrous price every day. His world is dark, restless, and sometimes hopeless. He runs harder, but lacks direction, and finds himself unfulfilled and injured by the very things he thought would bring pleasure. He is blind to the truth, and there is no remedy for his pathetic state. God gently calls to him with a sunrise. Though he deserves that punch in the nose, God responds to him with gentleness, longsuffering, and the riches of His goodness (Romans 2:4). If only he could know the joy of forgiveness. It makes me want to shout, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile! (Psalm 32) Hey, that’s me! I’m the blessed one!
Today, I am praying for wisdom, to make wiser choices for tenants in a business that has blessed my family, and belongs completely to God. I am thankful that God has ordered my steps. I am distracted by writing, so I will refocus. I hear my Beloved, and my deepest delight is to answer His call.