When you get frustrated with evil and suffering in this world, do you ever wish that God would just blast all of the evil off of this earth? He will indeed address the brokenness of this world, someday, and we need to be sure that we’re headed to the new earth. In the meantime, though, I think that there are quite a few people who genuinely struggle with why God doesn’t do so now. (By the way, that’s not a trivial topic to wrestle with, but for those who genuinely seek an answer, there are others who have written about their search and have found peace in what they finally learned.)
However, even if I sometimes get tired of God’s patience with others, I really like this verse from Romans, because it shows why God doesn’t jump to immediate punishment…for me!
Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
Romans 2:4 NIV
Now, I think that those who have read through the last chapter of the book of Revelation (especially in context of the rest of the Bible) would probably agree with John’s statement, “Come, Lord Jesus” (or we might say, “Maranatha”). We’re ready to be done with this fallen, broken world, and wish that Jesus would come back…today.
While I don’t think that it is wrong to look forward to Jesus’ return, this verse reminds us that God has a purpose for waiting. In fact, 2 Peter 3:8-9 (written by one of Paul’s counterparts in Jesus’ ministry) also makes this point, in a different way. We might think of this passage in 2 Peter as God waiting for others to find salvation. Consider the parable of the lost sheep in Matthew 18:12-14, after all. If the shepherd had just called it a day when he found a sheep missing in the count, there wouldn’t have been much hope for that lost sheep.
However, Romans 2 suggests that even those to whom the book of Romans was written (see Romans 1:7) are benefiting from God’s patience. This suggests to me that maybe God is being patient for followers of Jesus, too. Even if you – like me – have already found salvation in Jesus, I’m pretty sure that you and I still have work to do. This includes work to grow in righteousness (i.e., sanctification), and work to both show and tell the good news to others.
Now, how do we “show contempt” for God’s grace in giving us time to repent? Maybe it’s when we judge others (emphasizing the truth of God with our words), but continue to live sinfully (denying the truth of God with our actions)?
For followers of Jesus (like myself), I think that we should continue seeking sanctification (becoming more and more like Jesus). Even as those whose sins are paid for by the blood of Jesus, we are expected to live righteous lives. Maybe there’s something in my life (and yours) today, about which God is patiently waiting for us to repent.
From Sunday School lesson prepared for January 9, 2022
- The Lookout, January 9, 2022, © 2022 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- The College Press Commentary, Romans, Volume 1, by Jack Cottrell. College Press Publishing Company, © 1996.