I've been reading through Romans recently and have been reminded of why I like that particular book of the Bible so much. I took a class in college all about Romans and it was one of my favorite classes. Romans is so full of practical help and second chances at relationships and choices, including the Ultimate Second Chance - salvation from sin. As I started reading through, I was reminded and yes, even convicted, of areas in my own life that I fall way short of how God wants me to behave. You can't even get through the first chapter without seeing your own sin and unworthiness. It's so easy to read Bible passages or sit in a church service and hear messages and immediately think of everyone in your life that 'really needs to hear this!'. It is way too easy to point a finger at others while completely ignoring the fact that the same sin is in your own life. I love that in Romans, God just spells out so clearly that we have no right to judge others because we're guilty of the same things we tend to look down our noses at others for.
I've witnessed the hurt of people who have been 'labelled' or deemed guilty of the sin they've committed and sometimes over things they haven't done. Sometimes when someone commits a 'bad' sin, we just want to write them off and completely detach ourselves from them lest we tarnish our own image. When a fellow Christian sins and it is made public to everyone around, we should not disassociate ourselves with them (when they are repentant) and just wish evil to come upon them. Neither should we be upset when things seem to be going well for them. We do not know what work God is doing in their hearts and we have no right to gossip about them or speak evil of them to any other person. Romans 2 states that the goodness of God leads to repentance. So, shouldn't we show goodness toward others no matter what spiritual state we believe them to be in? Our goal in every relation should be to bring people to a closer relationship with our Lord and Saviour. So, when we're busy talking about someone who has fallen short (aka. gossipping) we are not doing the will of God. We are guilty before God. James 2:10 states, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."
This has weighed heavy on my heart for several weeks as the Lord brings to my mind people that I know and love that have been hurt by others in this way. May 2010 be the year we all begin to treat others the way God treats us.
And on another note - my church has started a series on Wednesday nights called "One Another". It is all about our relationships and how we treat one another, etc. I encourage you to listen to the messages here. The first one is called 'When One-Anothering Begins' and is dated 1/6/10.