Illustration: Three home owners in three different parts of the country strategize on maximizing their homes’ values.
Romans is talking about the family of God . . . the Jews. They were valuable in God’s sight. Yet, they neglected this value, turned their backs upon God, and suffered greatly. Today, thanks be to God, this family of God includes Gentiles as well. We have been grafted into the vine. We should, however, look at what they did so that we can avoid those mistakes. I am defining “house” as your temple. Even more so, those who live in your house with you.
1) Start with assessing your own house (Romans 2:3-12).
The HGTV show, “My house is worth what?” starts with assessing what your house is worth. A problem with the Jewish constituency Paul was addressing was they thought they were okay. In fact, they did not believe they would be judged, regardless of how they lived, because they were a part of the chosen people. Conversely, the Jews thought the all the Gentiles were on their way to hell. Paul says, in not so many words, assess your own house! Don’t you realize that your works nor their works will enable you to gain eternal life.
Let us take this to a personal level. Assess your own house. Don’t look at other people’s children and say, “oh my.” Don’t look at other people’s grandchildren and say, “oh, they are so terrible.” Or other persons spouse or other single people. We must start looking in the mirror.
Illustration: I know of a family that I will call judgmental John and Judy. They always talked about everyone else’s children. They would always preface talking about someone else’s child with, “well, she is a nice girl, but you know she sleeps around.” Or, “His son is nice, but bless his heart, I heard he drinks at all the parties and is wild.” The problem was, their child was no saint. Oh, they thought he was, but he wasn’t. I will never forget that day when all hell broke lose because Judgmental John and Judy’s child was caught falling in immorality. Don’t look at your neighbor, look at yourself, start with yourself. We are often blinded by our own faults.
Illustration: I can remember being with a group of people and making my rounds, talking to everyone. Spending time with everyone. I noticed everyone looking at me, I assumed they liked (or didn’t like) my new haircut. Then, going home Tonya asked me to look at her. Oh my, she said, you have a huge pimple on the tip of your noise and it looks awful. Why didn’t you tell me sooner, I asked? I am sorry, I didn’t notice it. I went home and looked in the mirror and saw why everyone was staring at me. It was sickening. I had a pimple on my nose that I couldn’t see unless I got in the mirror. Our mirror as Christians is the Word of God and the light that illuminates this mirror is the Holy Spirit. We need to ask God to assess our lives and the lives of our houses.
Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.”
2) The Assessment reflects Your work (Romans 2:13).
On the HGTV show, each home is looked over and the person shares what works they have done to improve the value of the house. Then, the appraiser shares whether the work has increased, decreased or has had no effect on the value of the house. Bottom line, though, to increase the value of your house you need to update and improve.
In your and my life we must be constantly growing in our Christian faith. We can observe our lives in light of the Word of God, but if we do not continue to work, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, on these areas, then we will not be pleasing unto God. Hearing or knowing the law is not synonymous with obedience. We must put feet to our work.
Personal Illustration: As you know, I went from a pharmacist to the seminary. I was so proud of one of the first papers I wrote. It was tremendous. I was so proud of this paper. I asked Tonya, who had written for the UAB newspaper and whose major in college was English Literature, to edit this paper for me. I kept hearing all these moans in the next room as Tonya is looking over the paper. I knew she was in awe at my writing skills. After several hours, she brought back my paper and it was full of red; she had bled all over my paper. I was furious. She didn’t have a clue what she was talking about. Even though I had never really written, I was a creative writer. She just didn’t get it. The next day my parents came to Birmingham and I asked Dad to look over the paper. I printed a new copy and gave to him. He sat in my blue leather recliner, and began to moan like Tonya did. He said, bring me a red pen. The next thing I know he was giving me the paper back saying perhaps I needed to take a remedial writing class. What did I do? I went back to Tonya and she began to work with me on my writing. Had I turned in this paper without the corrections, I would have made a poor grade. The extra work led to an increase in the grade on my paper.
3) Proper Assessment requires knowledgeable advice (Romans 2:17-20).
On My House is worth what? an appraiser comes and shares from his knowledge what this house is worth. He is knowledgeable of the real-estate prices.
You must work, with the help of God, to be this knowledgeable person. Knowledgeable of the things of God. Knowlegeable to help your family, your friends. Unlike the Jews, we must share with our house the truths of God. Do not depend upon the youth program, the preaching service, the Sunday School class, discipleship training class to receive your growth or the growth of your family. These are good, but the primary growth needs to come begin at home. You are to be the expert!
Deuteronomy 6:6-12 These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. 8 “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 9 “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. 10 “Then it shall come about when the LORD your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build, 11 and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you eat and are satisfied, 12 then watch yourself, that you do not forget the LORD who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
This value does not focus on the physical or material (Romans 2:28). This is the exact opposite from the world. “God looks at the heart”. We need to spend more time developing the heart than we do in developing the outward appearance and sports. Think about it, we take our kids to dance, football, basketball, baseball, cheerleading, band and so forth. These things are good, but they are not of eternal significance.
4) A little paint doesn’t conceal the leak for long (Romans 2:21-24).
Just as the Jews, there are Christians who do not know the value of their family. If you did, you would not do the things that you do. You would not act the way you act. I remember, when I was growing up, a man who talked the Lord. He would pray long prayers and pepper the prayers with Thees and Thous. The problem, he did not live his life and his son never lived sold-out for Christ. I will never forget in High School finding out about some of the leaders in the community. I was with one high school friend when he found documentation of the immoral practices of his father. His heart was broken as he sobbed and sobbed. I remember another friend discovering his parents were living in immoral lives . . . to this day, he is not involved in church. I remember a friend discovering the dual life of her father . . . her world was shattered. I remember a girl sharing with me that older relatives had abused her sexually, and she was so messed up. I cried with a girl that I knew very well when I discovered she had an abortion . . . the father . . . her biological dad. I could go on and on. I can remember adults who were in church condoning their relative to sleep with her boyfriend when they came home for a visit. On and on it goes in my little mind. I used to cry in bed and ask God, “why don’t these adults grow up?” Now, thanks be to God by His grace my parents lived what they preached. But, we must live differently. Do you value your family. They are worth so much more than you can imagine.