“The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise, as some count slowness, but is
patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should reach
repentance” (2 Peter 3:9)
As we continue our study of the character of God, we come to a wonderful
aspect of Him that is seldom taught – He is patient, infinitely patient. When
you think about it, if He wasn’t that way, we wouldn't be here. We don’t
patience like His, for He has endured this
world of sinners we call “humanity” since the beginning of time.
Has it ever seemed that God takes an awfully long time in responding to your
need? Does He seem “slow” to
help? Time is very different for us when things are not
like we think they should be. When I was a boy and spent five years in hospital
beds and wheelchairs, it seemed like time slowed and my predicament lasted for
an eternity. I gave up hope of ever getting out of that chair. Or in your
situation, are you well on your way to eternity right now and you wonder what
life was all about? The Book, “Christian Theology in Plain Language,” reports
that, “World War II was almost over. News of the
armistice had reached the troops but the actual order to cease fire was still on
the way to the front. Then a bursting shell tore open a soldier's flesh. As his
blood flowed out of the fatal wound, he said, ‘Isn't this just like God?’"
He was upset, like most of us would be in relation to receiving a sudden, fatal
wound just as the war ended; a moment when he felt “safe at last.” Notice that
he had some kind of belief that God exists, but as many do, he also blamed God
for what had happened. He thought that a treaty among men would save him
from death. What he really needed was to trust in the Lord no matter what, just
like we need to trust the Lord, every moment of every day.
There will come a time when we realize at last that the most
important event of our lives is to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is
Patience, He is Peace and He is the Giver of all good things. In our lives we
may have valued money, power, marriage, position, notoriety, success and more,
but at some point, all of our concerns about such things won't matter. Of value in relation to
eternity is our faith in the Lord, our love of Him and the certain hope that He
will see us through, understanding that He will “wipe away every tear”
(Revelation 21:4). To have honest faith, hope and love is – everything. The sad
fact is that if you will not look to Him, when you leave this world, you will
have – nothing.
In Galatians 5:22-23, we find examples of the “fruit of the Spirit,”
including "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness (and) self-control.” The word in the original Greek language for
“longsuffering” on that list is “makrothumia,” which is also translated as
“patient” or “patience.” And note that these characteristics are the “fruit of
the Spirit,” which is to say that they are of and from God’s Holy Spirit; not
something produced on our own. If we truly have that kind of patience, it is
because God is in us and we are in Him. Something of God Himself, including His
capacity for extraordinary patience is planted deep within ordinary people like
you and me.
God is indeed patient. A form of the same Greek word, “makrothumia,” is used in
2 Peter 3:9, our Scripture for today. God is the One who is “longsuffering,” He
is the One who is “patient.” At our best we are a race of impatient beings, but
when He enters our hearts and lives, He brings something WONDERFUL into us – the
Spirit of God. We continue to be imperfect, but alongside our human
shortcomings, we find growing within us the patience that comes directly from
God’s Holy Spirit. Trees can do nothing of themselves. It is God who gives
them growth, limbs, beautiful leaves and various kinds of fruitfulness, and it
is true of us as well. God is the One who gives us – everything!
In today’s Scripture we see that God’s timeframe is vastly different than ours.
He is “slow” to act. A nation may commit a series of terrible actions against
some people or another; or an individual commits great harm to others, and we
cry out for “justice” to be done! And it will be, though oddly the judgment upon
that nation may be dozens or hundreds of years in the future, and the judgment
upon that individual who hurt us may be in eternity, not in this world at all.
God is patient beyond anything or anyone we could possibly know. We merely get
“hints” about His patience from Scriptures like ours for today. Not only is He
“longsuffering” in relation to this race of sinful beings we call “humanity,”
but it is for a great purpose and He has been patiently waiting for at
least thousands of years. He is, as it states in today’s Scripture, “not willing
that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
Why didn’t God end all of human history right at the beginning when our tendency
toward sin was first revealed? If you accept Adam and Eve as literal people, why
weren’t they obliterated on the spot? The answer is that He was waiting for you
and me and all the rest who would be born, to come to the Lord and be saved
from sin. God has endured tyrannical governments, horrible empires and the
madmen who ran them, with the idea in mind that you have the right to come
into this world and you have the opportunity to trust in the Son of God.
He does not want ANYONE to “perish.” He intends to save you and me.
David, the shepherd boy who became a king, learned firsthand about the patience
of God. After years of observing God’s mercy and patience in his own life, he
said, “You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding
in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Psalm 86:15). Moses watched as “the Lord
passed before him” and listened as the Lord enlightened Him about the character
of God. Here’s what was said: “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping
steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin”
(Exodus 34:6-7). But then He continued in Verse 7, “But who will by no means
clear the guilty…”
God is patient, He puts up with us, He waits for us to turn to Him, and He
endures people and nations that are hostile to Him. Here’s why: “Christ died for
the ungodly… (showing)His love for us in that while we were still sinners,
Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8). It’s true about God that “forgiving iniquity
and transgression and sin” is part of His character, but it’s also true that He
“will by no means clear the guilty.” How does it work? How does the Lord forgive
those who have been proud, arrogant, mean-spirited and hostile toward the things of
First of all, as we can see in our Scripture for today, He does not want
be lost. He loves us and wants us to be rescued, to be saved from the sin,
degradation and loss that damage this world. From His perspective, ANY sin
makes us “guilty” before a holy, just and pure God who is innocent in all His
ways. The most horrible dictator of all time is similar in His sight to
the person who cheats on his or her spouse.
“He who said, “Do not commit adultery, also said, Do not murder.
If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of
the law…” (James 2:10-11). In other words, one sin is like another in the sight of God. We
all need a
Savior, we need the Lord, who said, “For God so loved the world
that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but
have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
He is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to
repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). He is waiting patiently for us all. Will you come to
Lord, I confess that I have sinned and I believe in You now. I am Yours. Thank You
for patiently waiting and for saving me. In Jesus Name. Amen.