August 18, 2019
God’s seemingly slow reaction to sin often puzzles believers. Why doesn’t He immediately punish those who violate His principles? The succinct answer is found in 2 Peter 3: The Lord is patient so that all people have an opportunity to repent (v. 9).
In our humanness, we sometimes want people to suffer for wrongdoing. Jonah ran away from his duty to speak in Nineveh, home of Israel’s brutal enemy. He expected that if the inhabitants repented, his gracious, compassionate God would relent about destroying the city—which is precisely what came to pass. Instead of rejoicing in the Lord’s success, the prophet complained about God’s treating the Ninevites with patience and mercy (Jonah 4:2). Jonah was angry at God despite the fact that he himself was shown divine mercy after acting in blatant disobedience. True, being swallowed and regurgitated by a fish is not pleasant, but the prophet’s life was spared.
More often than not, believers have ample reason to be thankful that the Lord, unlike human beings, is slow to anger. When we are stubborn and unrepentant, He waits patiently for us to respond to conviction. Discipline is painful to both the recipient and the one carrying it out. God prefers that we see the error of our ways, stop thinking that we’re getting away with sin, and turn back to His righteous path.
The Lord places such a high value on repentance and maintaining fellowship that He is willing to delay punishment of sin. But only for a time. Eventually, His justice demands a penalty. Do not wait for discipline. Instead, do what’s right, and turn your heart back toward God.
Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 31-32