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.
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.
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.~1 Timothy 1:12-16