Today’s scripture reading:
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus. This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.
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! But fortunately for all of us, God possesses great patience.
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 and wants to help us when we go wrong.
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. In other words, the warning is that God’s patience will at some point run out if someone continuously sins against Him, submitting to unrighteousness instead of to the Father.
In the Old Testament, Israel repeatedly experienced this painful truth. The people turned away from the Lord and did evil in His sight by worshipping idols. God patiently tolerated their waywardness, giving them ample opportunity to choose obedience. Eventually He’d withdraw His protection until they would cry out and return to Him. Ultimately, even when the Lord allows calamity to reach His children, it is still drenched with His love and purpose.
Is there unconfessed sin in your life? Be thankful that the Lord is slow to anger. And be wise: Do not test the limits of His tolerance.