Summary: We presume upon God’s patience and tolerance, but do not understand those characteristics of His love. They are central to knowing Him.
Opening Joke: Did you hear about the teacher who was helping one of her kindergarten students put his boots on? He asked for help and she could see why. With her pulling and him pushing, the boots still didn’t want to go on. When the second boot was finally on, she had worked up a sweat. She almost whimpered when the little boy said, "Teacher, they’re on the wrong feet." She looked and sure enough, they were. It wasn’t any easier pulling the boots off then it was putting them on. She managed to keep her cool as together they worked to get the boots back on - this time on the right feet. He then announced, "These aren’t my boots." She bit her tongue rather than get right in his face and scream, "Why didn’t you say so?" like she wanted to. Once again she struggled to help him pull the ill-fitting boots off. He then said, "They’re my brother’s boots. My Mom made me wear them." She didn’t know if she should laugh or cry. She mustered up the grace to wrestle the boots on his feet again. She said, "Now, where are your mittens?" He said, "I stuffed them in the toes of my boots..."
a. We have been talking about the patience of God (as opposed to the patience we need) –
b. The bible speaks clearly and loudly about the patience of God.
c. Last week
i. We learned that God’s patience is the characteristic of His nature that holds back His wrath from consuming that which is contrary to His Holiness.
ii. We learned that Paul experienced God’s patience, having deserved death and punishment for what he had done and yet had received not only forgiveness but a calling to spread the message of Christ to the entire Mediterranean region.
iii. We also learned that every breath we take is gift from God, not owed to us, but graciously given to us through His patience and love. God knows our past, our present and our future, He knows all that we have done or ever will do, yet He doesn’t give us what we deserve.
iv. Last week I shared some insights into the Greek word for patience (Greek being the language that the New Testament was written in).
1. We found out that the word for patience is the Greek word Macrothumeo – which is a combination of two words (macro – long, holding out far) and (thumeo – anger, wrath)
2. In simple terms, patience means to be slow to anger, to hold back from destroying someone even though you have the right, the power and the ability to do so.
v. (Ps. 145:8) God’’s slowness to anger is a aspect of His mercy: "the Lord is full of compassion, slow to anger".
2. This week we are going to examine the limits to God’s patience.
a. Many people believe that because God doesn’t punish wrong doing immediately that God doesn’t punish wrong doing at all.
b. But God works a bit different than human beings.
i. In human parenting and in social training, it is important to have immediate consequences to our actions so that we learn from those consequences.
1. When a person can break the law and get only a slap on the wrist, it communicates to him that he can do it again without severe consequences.
2. If a child is not corrected immediately for antisocial behavior, he or she will continue in that behavior, and possibly even worsen in it.
ii. But God is not a human being.
1. In the garden He told Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or they will surely die.
2. When Eve ate of it, Adam watched to see if Eve would die…when she didn’t, then he ate it as well.
3. What they didn’t realize, as we often don’t realize, that our actions on this earth have ramifications in the unseen, spiritual realm.
4. Adam and Eve didn’t immediately die physically, but they did die spiritually…in their relationship with God.
a. They lost the pure unhindered access to God that they once had and passed that lostness on to all of their descendents, including you and me.
5. Death was the ultimate consequence of their actions, even if God withheld his hand from inflicting it upon them immediately. That is a display of God’s incredible patience.
Let’s examine our passage for today’s sermon:
3. Romans 2:4 Or do you think lightly (scorn) of the riches of His kindness and tolerance (anoche) and patience (macrothumeo), not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who will render to each person according to his deeds.”