Updated: Aug 23, 2019
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“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness . . . “ Exodus 34:6
This is a description of our God. He is a Father who is eternally patient with his children. As He exercises divine control over his judgmental wrath against sin, his mercy and goodness shines through to those who love him.
In the time before the Great Flood described in Genesis, God showed his patience with those who were corrupt. The earth was full of violence and He decided in His infinite wisdom that He would put an end to all the corruption. He didn't do it immediately. He waited almost 120 years before sending the destructive waters upon the earth.
God showed His patience with the people of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness for those forty long years. Neither their clothes nor their sandals wore out during those forty years as He led them through the desert (Deuteronomy twenty-nine verse 5). He could have destroyed them immediately, but He was patient toward them.
After Israel entered the Promised Land, they almost immediately turned their attention from their God of Protection. They worshiped idols and bowed down to foreign gods. God could have destroyed them instantly, but instead He had compassion on them and sent deliverers, those we know as Judges, to show them the Way of Holiness.
For many years He was patient with His people. By His Spirit He admonished them through His prophets. Yet those stiff necked and rebellious people paid no attention, so He handed them over to the neighboring pagans. But in His great mercy He did not put an end to them or abandon them, for He is a gracious and merciful God. He was patient once again (Nehemiah nine verse thirty).
When His children sentenced and executed Jesus Christ, God's One and Only Son, did God destroy them immediately? No! He remained a patient God and waited forty years before allowing the temple in Jerusalem to be destroyed by the Roman armies.
God was patient in times past. He remains patient now. Why doesn't he destroy those today who are involved in obvious sin and rebellion? Why doesn't he consume those who curse him by sending down fire from heaven? Why doesn't the earth open up and swallow those who persist in mocking the God of All Creation?
There is only one answer. He is a perfectly patient God, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone whom He has called to come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9).
Reflect upon your own life for a moment. Have you been slow in obeying God's commandments? Have you found yourself grumbling and complaining about your wilderness wanderings? Are you just not satisfied with where God has you right now and wish He would hurry up and make some changes in your life so you can get on this things?
He could judge every one of us immediately for our impatience with Him, but He doesn't? He is infinitely patient with each of us. Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation (Second Peter three verse fifteen). It is through His patience that we see His mercy, His compassion, and his grace. As we meditate upon God’s patience with us, it should soften our hearts and make our consciences tender. It should motivate us to greater patience, love and compassion toward others.
The Apostle Paul wrote these words to the church in Ephesus: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians four verse two).
The patience that God has toward each of us should be the standard by which we have patience for each other. God has been infinitely patient toward you. How patient are you toward others?
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22–23, ESV)
May the Lord, our God, who is compassionate and gracious, be reflected in you each day as you abound, by His grace, in compassionate patience.