Romans 2:4

In Romans 2:4 Paul takes on those who believe they are good because of their morals head on. We can’t get there by living a good life – because we aren’t perfect. So Paul points out that the person who believes he is good enough presumes upon the kindness, forbearance, and patience of God, which all should bring the moralist into a humble repentance instead of an attitude of superiority. “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?” Guzik reminds us:

  1. Kindness is God’s kindness to us in regard to our past sin. He has been kind to us because He has not judged us yet though we deserve it.
  2. Forbearance is God’s tolerance with us in regard to our present sin. This very day – indeed, this very hour – we have fallen short of His glory, yet He holds back His judgment against us.
  3. Patience is God’s understanding of our future sin. He knows that we will sin tomorrow and the next day, yet He holds back His judgment against us.

Considering all this, it is no surprise that Paul describes these three aspects of God’s reaction toward us as riches. The riches of God’s mercy may be measured by four considerations:

  • His greatness– to wrong a great man is a great wrong and God is greatest of all – yet He shows mercy.
  • His omniscience– if someone knew all our sin, would they show mercy? Yet God shows mercy.
  • His power– sometimes wrongs are not settled because they are out of our power, yet God is able to settle every wrong against Him – yet He is rich in mercy.
  • The object of His mercy: mere man – would we show mercy to an ant? Yet God is rich in mercy.

Knowing how great God’s kindness is, it is a great sin to presume upon the graciousness of God, and we easily come to believe that we deserve it. We do not deserve any of these three aspects of God’s love, nor the riches of His mercy.

Sometimes men think of this as weakness in God. They say things like “If there is a God in heaven, let Him strike me dead!” When it doesn’t happen, they will say, “See, I told you there was no God.” Men misinterpret God’s forbearance and patience as His approval, and they refuse to repent. But they are wrong. They will discover that clearly when they stand before God on judgment day and have to account for all their sin. Without the saving grace of Christ, they will at that point discover that God’s kindness, forbearance, and patience is gone, and they will stand there without any answer to the question of why they should enter heaven. They can’t make it on their own. So they will not be allowed entry.

Many people misunderstand the goodness of God towards the wicked. They don’t understand the entire reason for it is to lead them to repentance. God doesn’t force us to repent. But His kindness, forbearance, and patience is given so we will come to understand the need for it. Men should see the goodness of God and understand:

  • God has been better to them than they deserve.
  • God has shown them kindness when they have ignored Him.
  • God has shown them kindness when they have mocked Him.
  • God is not a cruel master and they may safely surrender to Him.
  • God is perfectly willing to forgive them.
  • God should be served out of simple

If you are waiting for God to drive you to repentance know that He doesn’t work like that; God leads you to repentance through His character and love. But we have to ake the step to come and receive it!

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