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On our recent family vacation to the U.S., we spent a lot of time in Colorado visiting my parents and mykindness2 sister and her family.  They both live on little farms right next to each other.  We stayed in a RV trailer between them, about 30 yards from each of their houses.  It was not connected to a sewer system, so we normally used the bathroom at one of their houses.  My sister’s house has two bathrooms, one upstairs and the other downstairs.  When I used her upstairs bathroom, I noticed she had printed up and framed a Bible verse, Romans 2:4.  Quick, can anyone quote that verse?  Although I have read Romans many times, and even taught a class on that epistle of Paul, I couldn’t remember that verse which talks about God’s kindness, tolerance or forbearance, and patience.  Later I used the downstairs bathroom, and there was that verse again, located strategically in TWO places!

So here was a wonderful but somewhat obscure verse printed and displayed for all bathroom users to see and read in both her bathrooms.  Not your usual restroom reading material.  Needless to say I spent a lot of time thinking about Romans 2:4.

“Do you take lightly the kindness, tolerance and patience of God, not realizing that His kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”

That is Romans 2:4 in whatever version of the Bible my younger sibling was using (NASB).

Every time I walked into her bathroom I felt like Paul was there personally asking me about how seriously I took God’s kindness, tolerance and patience.  How often did I think about those attributes of God?  How often did I give thanks for those characteristics of the Almighty?  Sometimes I felt like saying, “Hey Paul, a little privacy!”

The words that jumped out at me were “Do you take lightly”.  I looked at this verse in my trusty NIV and the question was “Do you show contempt?”  I think most Christians would say of course I don’t show contempt for God’s kindness, forbearance (NIV) and patience, and go onto the next verse. We forget about it.  But how about taking those things lightly?  To me that’s another question entirely.

When we dig deeper into Romans one and two, we see that Paul is making the argument that all have sinned and have fallen short of God’s high and holy expectations for humanity, which  culminates in chapter three.  In chapter one Paul shows how the gentiles have come up short, and all the Jews in the audience are thinking, “Yeah, what do expect from a bunch of stinking gentiles?”

In chapter two, Paul turns his argument against the Jews.  He tells them that they are even worse than those pagan gentiles because they have the law of God which forbids the things the gentiles do, and yet the Jews do the same things, while condemning the gentiles.  In Romans 2:4, Paul is exclaiming to the Jews that God has shown them great kindness, tolerance and patience through the ages, and they seem to take it lightly as is seen by their propensity to judge their gentile neighbors.  The greatest act of kindness, tolerance and patience God showed the Jews was sending Jesus the Messiah to them, and they killed him.  Now who are the bad guys?

Jesus said in Luke six that God shows kindness to the wicked and ungrateful.  Paul says in a speech to the pagans in Acts. 14, that in ages past God has been kind to all peoples, giving you rain from heaven and crops in their season; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.

But now that they know about the one, true God, a time of reckoning has come.  He asks those heathen, he asks the Jews, and he asks you and me, “Do you take lightly God’s kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that His kindness is intended to bring you to repentance?”  Good question.
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Sometimes kids think they have the worst parents in the world.  And then, when they go out into the world and live by themselves, all of a sudden, they realize, they have had the best parents in the world all along.  When I look back on my life, I realize I have the best parents.

Many are  the reasons I think I have the best parents, but one of the main reasons is that my parents were always making deposits of kindness into the Bank of Goodwill.  What I mean by this is that my parents were, and still are, very generous people.  Growing up, I remember, that when they saw a need, they tried to relieve that need.  They were always kind towards people in need, and sought to relieve those needs.  They were continually making deposits of kindness into the Bank of Goodwill.  In helping others they were storing up treasures for themselves in heaven.  Storing up treasures for themselves in heaven was not their motive, but it is a biblical principle.

An example:  When I was about ten years old, there was a poor family in our church that seemed to me like the most hard luck family that I had ever seen.  They suffered from a variety of health and economic issues.  I remember that they had an old, beat up, station wagon.  The engine died one day and there was nothing they could do about it.  My dad found out about the situation and towed the car it to our house.  He worked on it for about a week, rebuilding the engine at his own expense.  When he was done fixing the vehicle, it ran better than it had in a long time.  He returned the car to them at no  cost.  For the hard luck family, it was an awesome answer to prayer.  For my family, it was a deposit of kindness into the Bank of Goodwill.

Many times my father helped people in need with his mechanical skill or his skill in construction.  Neither one of these skills was his “profession”.  He taught himself most of what he knew in these areas and used this knowledge to benefit our family and many other families.  My parents have always, faithfully given to their local church and supported foreign missionaries.  On occasion I have had financial needs and they have been generous in helping me.  All, deposits of kindness into the Bank of Goodwill.

The Bank of Goodwill is run by God.  He faithfully takes care of the deposits and sees that they give a good return.  And the interest is out of this world!  He tells us that “we reap what we sow”.  We harvest what we plant.  We receive back what we put into the Bank of Goodwill.

God tells us that He is generous to those who help the poor; that when we give of our time, talents and treasure, He gives back in good measure, pressed down, shaken together and overflowing.  For me, those are all expressions of what happens when we make deposits of kindness into the Bank of Goodwill.

My parents are retired now, at least from jobs that give them a regular paycheck.  They live comfortably in a nice, little house on a nice little piece of land in Colorado.  They are ever thankful to God for the blessings that they enjoy, praising Him because He loves them and wants them to be happy.  They continue to glorify God and  enjoy Him by continuing to be faithful givers to their church and to missionaries abroad.  Dad continues to help others with  his construction skills.  If he had a business card, which he never had in his life, I think  it would read – Have Nailgun, Will Travel.  Mom helps “the least of these” in a hundred different ways.  In other words, there is never a time to quit making deposits of kindness into the Bank  of Goodwill.  I read a bumper sticker once that said Practice Random Acts of Kindness.  Perhaps it’s better to Practice Intentional Acts of Kindness.  Or, how about today, We All make a deposit of kindness  into the Bank of Goodwill.

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The truth is, those who flourish always bring blessing to others – and they can do so in the most unexpected and humble circumstances.  John Ortberg, The Me I Want to Be – Becoming God’s Best Version of You

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Next blog – “I Am Thirsty”

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