If you and I are friends, and I (with no malice intended) say something that hurts your feelings, but you don’t tell me that I hurt you, am I at fault? Let’s say that I really like, oh I don’t know…Burl Ives. Remember him? He was a singer many years ago. He narrated that animated Frosty the Snowman Christmas special that they play every year on TV. And let’s say that you grow a goatee that reminds me of Burl Ives. And I say, “That goatee makes you look like Burl Ives!” Thing is, you can’t stand Burl Ives. You hate his voice and you hate that stupid Frosty the Snowman Christmas special. The last thing you want is to look like him. So you’re hurt. But you don’t tell me. And every time you look in the mirror, you’re reminded of how much I hurt your feelings.
Whose problem is this? Who is at fault? Me or you?
Romans is God’s way of telling us what his expectations are for us. If He never told us, we could not be held accountable for our behavior. But He loves us too much to let our bad behavior go. Why? Because our bad behavior brings bad consequences to us. My bad behavior hurts me, it hurts you, and it hurts our relationship with God. He wants us to avoid those consequences, so He gave us the Law.
Paul, in the first few chapters of Romans tells the Jews that every person has broken the Law. Why lay a guilt trip on them? So that they can see that they need the forgiveness made available through Jesus.
If I knew that you didn’t like Burl Ives, but I still told you that your goatee made you look like him, I am at fault. And if I am truly a friend, I’m going to apologize for being a jerk. I’m going to ask you to forgive me.