Blown Away By the Kindness of God.
Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? – Romans 1:4 NLT
God is angry with the sin of mankind. Paul made that painfully clear in the opening section of this letter. God has clearly revealed His existence through the natural revelation of His creation, so mankind is without excuse. From the beginning men have been able to see the handiwork and evidence of God’s existence through all that He has made. The very fact that humanity has always been predisposed to acknowledge the existence of some sort of supreme being gives credence to Paul’s assertion that He is knowable and accessible. And while mankind has had ample evidence of the existence of God, they have consistently refused to worship Him as God or show Him the gratitude He deserves. Instead, they worshiped the creation rather than the Creator. They turned to man-made idols and lifeless substitutes for the living God. They traded the truth about God for a lie. And so God turned them over to pursue their own selfish, sinful desires. The result has been a litany of destructive habits and unrighteous behaviors that demand God’s judgment. All men are guilty of rebelling against God. All men deserve the wrath of God.
But there are always those who arrogantly view themselves as above reproach and somehow excluded from guilt. They don’t see themselves as included in the list Paul gives in verses 26-31. In fact, they are the ones who point their fingers at everyone else, condemning their behavior, while smugly justifying their own. But Paul says, “When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things” (Romans 2:1b NLT). Paul is addressing that self-righteous, self-made individual who somehow believes he is worthy of God’s love, mercy and grace. This tends to be the religious person who thinks that he has a special relationship with God and views everyone else as lost and condemned because of their ignorance and unbelief. But Paul reminds them, “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” (Romans 2:4 NLT). Rather than recognize the incredible tolerance of God, they arrogantly continue to believe that they somehow deserve God’s love and mercy. Instead of acknowledging their sin and confessing it before God, they stubbornly continue to live in a fantasy world where they are somehow better than everyone else and more deserving of God’s favor.
So Paul attempts to break the bad news that judgment is coming. There will be a day when God holds every man and woman accountable for the way they have lived their life. Both Jews and Gentiles will have to answer to God for the outcome of their lives. “He will judge everyone according to what they have done” (Romans 2:6 NLT). “There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil – for the Jew first and also for the Gentile” (Romans 2:9 NLT). No one will escape. Unless of course you are able to “do good,” and keep God’s law perfectly and completely. But no one does good, not a single one. Paul will go on to stress this important point in chapter three. “No one is righteous – not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one” (Romans 3:10-12 NLT). It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Jew or a Gentile. It doesn’t matter if you think you’re a sinner or view yourself as a saint. The same outcome awaits everyone who sins, and according to Scripture, “everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23 NLT). But over the centuries, God has continued to show His kindness and tolerance toward mankind. He has withheld His judgment and continued to extend His mercy, offering all men the free gift of eternal life through His Son Jesus Christ. According to Paul, it is the kindness of God that is intended to turn us from our sin. His tolerance and patience, in spite of our sin, should drive us to Him. We’re all guilty and we can’t save ourselves. We’re all condemned and can’t escape the verdict for our crimes against God. Unless we can keep His law perfectly and completely, we can’t be made right with God. And we must recognize the reality that, apart from the saving work of Jesus Christ, every single human being will one day stand before God in judgment. And the sooner men come to grips with that reality, the sooner they will seek and savor the kindness of God made available through the substitionary death of Jesus Christ on the cross. “This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins” (1 John 4:10 NLT).
Father, Your kindness is amazing. Your patience with mankind is unbelievable. You have every right to destroy that which You made. Sin and rebellion against You leave every man and woman guilty and deserving of Your just and righteous wrath. Yet you continue to show them love, mercy, and kindness. You continue to extend the offer of Your Son. Never let me lose sight of just how kind and patient You have been to me. I am no more deserving of Your love and grace than any other person who has ever lived. So thank You! Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men