Does God’s kindness ever run out? Does God ever say “That’s enough!”? Does He ever get really angry? Does He have His version of a really big machine gun?
Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth ; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. Exodus 34:6-7
The answer is yes. Don’t get me wrong, God is very patient and very kind but the Bible does show us several examples where He decides that He has had enough; that He is going to discipline or even severely punish nations or individuals. Listen to Paul in Romans…
“Notice how God is both kind and severe. He is severe to those who disobeyed, but kind to you as you continue to trust in his kindness. But if you stop trusting, you also will be cut off.” Rom. 11:22
We learn in scripture that God abounds in loving-kindness and is “slow to anger”. That means that He does become angry-He is just extremely slow about it. When He finally does become angry, His anger will always have an object and that object will be either disciplined or punished. When does this happen? When people stop trusting in Him.
Sometimes I think that we Christians can become so secure in God’s grace that we stop having proper reverence or respect for God. We can then fall into apathetic patterns of sin and undisciplined lifestyles that do not look like Jesus’ life at all. We have practically “stopped trusting in His kindness”.
The nation of Israel did exactly that. Over a period of hundreds of years, they slipped further and further away from God. He pleaded with them and warned them through His messengers the prophets but they would not listen. God spoke through Isaiah…
All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations-- a people who continually provoke me to my very face, … I will not keep silent but will pay back in full; I will pay it back into their laps-- both your sins and the sins of your fathers," says the LORD. Isaiah 65
God says to His Jewish people that time is just about up and that He is going to deal with them severely. He also declares His heart to show His loving-kindness to a new people-Us! Listen again to Isaiah in the same passage…
"I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me.To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, 'Here am I, here am I.' Isaiah 65:1
We should be so thankful to God for that call. Especially when we were not even looking for Him at all! God is now building for himself a new people. He is showing His great heart to all of the world. This was His plan from the beginning and the Jews were to execute this plan, but they were “cut off” because of disobedience.
This brings me to my point: We must not think we are so special that we could not experience something similar. We must love God and obediently trust in Him. We must not fall into the same illusion that we can just take God for granted-that He is so kind and so good that He would never do anything about our persistent sin. Listen again to Paul…
“Don't you realize how kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Or don't you care? Can't you see how kind he has been in giving you time to turn from your sin? But no, you won't listen. So you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself because of your stubbornness in refusing to turn from your sin. For there is going to come a day of judgment when God, the just judge of all the world, 6 will judge all people according to what they have done. 7 He will give eternal life to those who persist in doing what is good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. 8 But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and practice evil deeds.” Rom. 2:4-8
God will always punish sin. He did punish sin in the death of His own Son Jesus. His full anger and fury at sin was directed at an object once and for all-at Jesus. I praise and thank God for this. We don’t ever want to take this expression of kindness for granted.
May we continue to trust in His kindness. May we put away from ourselves those things that are displeasing to Him. May we love Him and humbly execute His plan of loving-kindness toward others. May we reverence Him with our lives!
“He is not safe, but He is good” C.S. Lewis