God Is Kind, but Not Soft 2 1Those people are on a dark spiral downward. But if you think that leaves you on the high ground where you can point your finger at others, think again. Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself. It takes one to know one. Judgmental criticism of others is a well–known way of escaping detection in your own crimes and misdemeanors. 2But God isn’t so easily diverted. He sees right through all such smoke screens and holds you to what you’ve done. 3You didn’t think, did you, that just by pointing your finger at others you would distract God from seeing all your misdoings and from coming down on you hard? 4Or did you think that because he’s such a nice God, he’d let you off the hook? Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life–change. 5You’re not getting by with anything. Every refusal and avoidance of God adds fuel to the fire. The day is coming when it’s going to blaze hot and high, God’s fiery and righteous judgment. 6Make no mistake: In the end you get what’s coming to you—7Real Life for those who work on God’s side, 8but to those who insist on getting their own way and take the path of least resistance, Fire! 9If you go against the grain, you get splinters, regardless of which neighborhood you’re from, what your parents taught you, what schools you attended. 10But if you embrace the way God does things, there are wonderful payoffs, again without regard to where you are from or how you were brought up. 11Being a Jew won’t give you an automatic stamp of approval. God pays no attention to what others say (or what you think) about you. He makes up his own mind. 12If you sin without knowing what you’re doing, God takes that into account. But if you sin knowing full well what you’re doing, that’s a different story entirely. 13Merely hearing God’s law is a waste of your time if you don’t do what he commands. Doing, not hearing, is what makes the difference with God. 14When outsiders who have never heard of God’s law follow it more or less by instinct, they confirm its truth by their obedience. 15They show that God’s law is not something alien, imposed on us from without, but woven into the very fabric of our creation. There is something deep within them that echoes God’s yes and no, right and wrong. 16Their response to God’s yes and no will become public knowledge on the day God makes his final decision about every man and woman. The Message from God that I proclaim through Jesus Christ takes into account all these differences. Religion Can’t Save You 17If you’re brought up Jewish, don’t assume that you can lean back in the arms of your religion and take it easy, feeling smug because you’re an insider to God’s revelation, 18a connoisseur of the best things of God, informed on the latest doctrines! 19I have a special word of caution for you who are sure that you have it all together yourselves and, because you know God’s revealed Word inside and out, 20feel qualified to guide others through their blind alleys and dark nights and confused emotions to God. 21While you are guiding others, who is going to guide you? I’m quite serious. While preaching “Don’t steal!” are you going to rob people blind? Who would suspect you? 22The same with adultery. The same with idolatry. 23You can get by with almost anything if you front it with eloquent talk about God and his law. 24The line from Scripture, “It’s because of you Jews that the outsiders are down on God,” shows it’s an old problem that isn’t going to go away. 25Circumcision, the surgical ritual that marks you as a Jew, is great if you live in accord with God’s law. But if you don’t, it’s worse than not being circumcised. 26The reverse is also true: The uncircumcised who keep God’s ways are as good as the circumcised—27in fact, better. Better to keep God’s law uncircumcised than break it circumcised. 28Don’t you see: It’s not the cut of a knife that makes a Jew. 29You become a Jew by who you are. It’s the mark of God on your heart, not of a knife on your skin, that makes a Jew. And recognition comes from God, not legalistic critics.
The Message® / © 2002 Eugene H. Peterson About