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God’s Patience

February 21, 2011 2 comments

“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness . . .”
Exodus 34:6

This is a description of our God.  He is a Father who is eternally patient with His children. As He exercises divine control over his judgmental wrath against sin, His mercy and goodness shines through to those who love Him.

In the time before the Great Flood described in Genesis, God showed his patience with those who were corrupt. The earth was full of violence and He decided in His infinite wisdom that He would put an end to all the corruption. He didn’t do it immediately. He waited almost 120 years before sending  the destructive waters upon the earth.

God showed His patience with those people of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness for  those  forty long years.  Neither their clothes nor their sandals wore out during those forty years as He led them through the desert (Deut. 29:5). He could have destroyed them immediately, but He was patient toward them.

After Israel entered the Promised Land, they almost immediately turned their attention from their God of Protection. They worshiped idols and bowed down to foreign gods. God could have destroyed them instantly, but He had compassion on them instead and sent deliverers, Judges, to show them the Way of Holiness.

For many years He was patient with His people. By His Spirit He admonished them through His prophets. Yet those stiff necked and rebellious people paid no attention, so He handed them over to the neighboring pagans. But in His great mercy He did not put an end to them or abandon them, for He is a gracious and merciful God. He was patient once again (Nehemiah 9:30).

When His children sentenced and executed Jesus Christ, God’s One and Only Son, did he destroy them immediately? No.  He remained a patient God and waited forty years before allowing the temple in Jerusalem to be destroyed by the Roman armies.

God was patient in times past. He remains patient now. Why doesn’t he destroy those today who are involved in obvious sin and rebellion? Why doesn’t he consume those who curse him by sending down fire from heaven? Why doesn’t the earth open up and swallow those who persist in mocking the God of All Creation?

There is only one answer . . . “He is a patient God, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness.  The  Lord  is  not  slow  in  keeping  his promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone whom He has called to come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9).

Reflect upon your own life for a moment. Have you been slow in obeying God’s commandments? Have you found yourself grumbling and complaining about your wilderness wanderings? Are you just not satisfied with where God has you right now and wish He would hurry up and make some changes in your life?

He could judge every one of us immediately for our impatience with Him, but He doesn’t?  He is infinitely patient with each of us.

Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation (2 Peter 3:15). It is through His patience that we see His mercy, His compassion, and his grace.  As we meditate upon God’s patience with  us,  it  should soften our hearts and make our consciences tender.  It should motivate us with greater love and compassion toward others.

Paul wrote these words to the church in Ephesus:

 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).     

The patience that God has toward us should be the standard by which we have patience toward others.  God has been infinitely patient toward you.  How patient are you toward others?

May the Lord, our God, who is compassionate and gracious be reflected in you this week that you may abound in compassionate patience.

May the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be with your spirit . . . 

Pastor Mark