All of us deal with deadlines. It could be renewing our car tabs, getting our kids to a practice or projects at work. I don’t think anyone ever thinks that the deadline or the obligation will go away. We instead choose to procrastinate, to our own peril. I do find it interesting that we view our responsibility to God differently. It seems as if our thinking is, if nothing happens, or God does not care, then somehow our responsibility will be waved. The Bible reminds us that this way of thinking is not true.
This month we launched our Celebrate Summer Series. Each year we do a study on a book of the Bible alternating between Old and New Testament books. The focus of this summer is the book of Romans in a study we are calling “Gospel 360” as we look at how the good news message of Jesus, the Gospel, impacts every area of our lives.
This past week I spent time in Romans 2. The emphasis in the passage challenges Jews not to trust in their religious position and practices as God’s chosen people but to focus on a life of obedience to Jesus. The passage contains a real application for existing followers of Jesus today to be intentional about our faith. The contrast Paul emphasized is that people that think they are better than others are not. Paul reminds us that we are no better than the group of “heathens” mentioned at the end of Romans 1 that has rejected God in their lives and are facing the consequences. It is easy to look down our nose at those whom “God gave them up” to follow their sinful desires. It is easy to feel that we are somehow better than them. Yet, Paul presses the point, if we are not actively working on our relationship with God, we are guiltier than these because we know the truth and do not live it. Paul is calling out the tendency of hypocrisy in our lives and calling us to be genuine. I challenge you to go ahead and read Romans 2.
I was hit specifically with the danger of judgment we face because of God’s patience towards us. It is easy for us to miss an important reality that God’s patience is not forgiveness, it is simply forbearance. God’s delay in not immediately dealing with us does not mean he will not deal with us. “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4) God’s patience is just that, intentional waiting until we will return to Him.
I understand that all of us sin and blow it all the time. Yet, the challenge I see here is not to become indifferent toward our responsibilities as His followers. We need to quit being intentional hypocrites. We need to quit playing games of acting one way and living another. I am reminded that God’s forbearance is the result of His kindness so that we can get our lives in line and to fail to grasp this means we are playing with fire. One of the greatest dangers is that longer you play with God’s patience the harder your heart grows toward Him. But the passage reminds us that there is a limit to God’s kindness! God’s patience is not forgiveness.
-Pastor Joe Parkinson