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? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality. (Rom 2:4-11)
I was listening to a portion of a sermon this morning and this part stood out to me.
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? (Rom 2:4)
God’s kindness or goodness, as some translations have, is meant to lead people to repentance. His actions are what lead us to repent and turn to Him. The only way we can experience His kindness is to spend time with Him in a relationship with Him.
I think one reason people in the church has such an issue with falling away or coming off as hypocrites is that they end up having more religion than relationship. Reading the Bible is wonderful and necessary, but it can not be the only way you interact with God. If I do nothing but read what it says and try to put it into practice, I am working to be good and be righteous. I am setting myself up for failure as I am not giving myself the opportunities to really change.
Maybe this is one reason churches feel dead to people. The members are focused on following the Bible and trying to be good that they have never developed the relationship with God. They are missing the life and the kindness that comes from knowing Him. They are missing that true repentance of their ways. This is not to say that people can not change themselves, but the emotional and spiritual issues that caused the underlying problem will continue to exist without a true repentance. It is an emotionally and physically draining process to change yourself and maintain that change. Often we hear the answer is to just let go of those things that seem to hard to be changed, but that is not the answer either. Change will only come about from relationship with God.
Now don’t get me wrong, because I am not saying that one should do without the Bible or that it should be put away. Without an active prayer life and being in an intimate relationship with God, the Bible alone will not save you.