And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. (1 Timothy 1:12-16)
If God were impatient, we would all experience immediate wrath for sin. Imagine living in constant fear of doing something wrong! Fortunately for mankind, His patience is great.
One reason that the Lord shows mercy is because He knows we have a fallen nature. Just as a toddler has to learn obedience, God's children also must learn to walk in His ways. He takes pleasure in watching us do what is right; therefore, He allows us time and room for mistakes.
Paul appreciated God's patience. His life demonstrated that because the Father is slow to anger, unbelievers have a much greater opportunity for salvation (1 Tim. 1:16).
In Romans 2:4, the apostle affirms that our heavenly Father's kindness and mercy lead to repentance. But in the following verse, he warns those with stubborn hearts that they will experience judgment and consequence. In other words, the warning is that God's patience will at some point run out if someone continuously sins against Him.
In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel repeatedly experienced this painful truth. The people turned away from the Lord and did evil in His sight by worshiping idols. God patiently tolerated their waywardness so that they would return to Him, but eventually, He withdrew His protection until they'd cry out and return to Him.
Is there sin in your life that you haven't confessed? Be thankful that God has been slow to anger. And be wise: do not test the limits of His patience.
Dr. Charles Stanley
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