In Romans 2:4 the Apostle Paul asks a question that we in Christendom would do well to consider for ourselves, meditating on how it might apply to our own inner attitudes.
“Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (NASB)
If many of us would stop to consider this question, we would have to answer with a resounding”yes”, to our shame.
Consider the scriptural fact that in order to be saved, we must first recognize that we are lost in our sins and need the Lord to forgive us and rescue us.
So, we recognize that we have fallen into a pit and cannot get out by ourselves. Only the Lord can reach down and pull us out, so we call out to Him to save us. He reaches down in His kindness, pulls us out of the pit, and sets our feet on the Rock. But we eventually forget from whence He rescued us and start feeling pretty good about ourselves, as though we had gotten where we are on our own.
We take on attitudes of pride that are themselves a stench in the nostrils of the God who saved us. It’s as if we began to look over the edge of the Rock at those still in the pit (or even at those who are on the Rock with us who have fallen and are hurt and can’t get up), with less-than-merciful attitudes. A non-exhaustive list of possible reactions we might have include the following:
- Did you hear what she did? (gossip)
- You made your bed; now lay in it! (condemnation)
- I’m obviously superior to you! (haughtiness)
- They don’t deserve to be helped! (contempt)
- I know they’re so wrong, because I’m so right! (legalism)
- When are they going to learn?! I am so tired of telling them; they just won’t listen! (impatience & intolerance)
- I’m not going to waste my time on him/her anymore! (combination of the above, and definitely not kind)
And all the while, the grieving heart of God continues to love us and tolerate us and be patient with us and be kind to us so that He might bring us to the place where we recognize that we have fallen and need His help again. He could just zap us and be done with it for these plaguey, grievous sins, but He shows us the kindness of leading us to repentance so that we can be restored to walking with Him and experiencing the joy of His salvation.
So, what are we going to do if we find ourselves in one or more of the above scenarios?
1 John 1:9 says,
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
- We must agree with God in prayer about the grievousness of our own specific sins (as He brings them to mind) and ask for His forgiveness.
- Then we need to ask Him to remind us daily that without His kindness and patience, we could never have been saved ourselves.
- In addition to that, we might do well to write Romans 2:4 on a note card and put it in a place where we can see it often. Memorizing it might help as well.
- We need to make a special effort to remember to be thankful for all He has done for us.
- We also need to pray for those who irritate us.
- Finally, as we thank Him for His kindness and tolerance and patience toward us, we need to pray for His help to show these same attitudes of mercy and grace to others so that they also may come to know our wonderful Lord.
To Him be the glory forever and ever! Amen!