Romans 2:4 “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”
I was reading the wonderful book of Romans while working out on a stationary bike earlier this week. I had thirty minutes of pedaling to knock out of the way, so I grabbed out my phone and launched my bible app. In church, we’re going through the book of Romans week by week, and I decided I would get a head start.
As I began reading, guilt welled up inside of me. I realized that God was showing me something. The words were like loud gongs in my head. I felt God speaking to me, “You are shown my mercy and kindness, yet you show contempt for it on others. Oh, Nicky. You’re missing the point! My kindness is to lead you—everyone for that matter—to me.”
For the longest time, I have been harboring anger towards another person. This wonderful girl used to hold a very close place in my heart. I tried to mentor her. Somehow, we began to drift apart. I watched from a distance as she began to make the choices I tried to protect her from.
I was hurt, offended, and disappointed, both in her and myself. The choices she made, I held against her. Each bad decision was a tally mark on a record sheet I kept in my head. For over a year, I have been keeping count. For over a year, I have kept myself from loving and forgiving her.
On that bike, God opened my eyes to my hypocrisy. If someone asked me to keep a running log of my sins on a daily basis, there wouldn’t be a paper long enough to hold it. I look at this girl in her sin, and I’m telling God to punish her, open her eyes, just do SOMETHING. This whole time he’s been looking at me, telling me to open MY eyes.
I cling to the mercy God has granted me. I want that mercy. All of us do. If we were to commit a crime, we want mercy and leniency. However, when we watch someone else break a rule, we cry out for justice. When I was little, if I hit my sister, I would beg my mom not to put me in time out. If I was the one struck, I was demanding that heads roll.
I can only deny my own sin for so long. Eventually, I have to self-reflect. When I do that, I can see that I am not perfect. I’m far from it actually. What gives me the right to pass judgment? I am no better than anyone else.
So where do I go from here?
God delivered me two very clear messages: forgive because you have been forgiven, and love because you are loved. If his love and forgiveness are what lead people to repentance, then my anger and contempt will push them away.
I’m slapping myself, and I’m asking God to forgive my hard-hearted tendencies. I’m thanking him deeply and sincerely for showing me that verse, and I’m so grateful I listened. I’m going to forgive because I have been forgiven, and I’m going to love because I am loved.