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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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