Today’s post is the conclusion of A.W. Pink’s essay on the patience of God. To read part 1 go here.
The Patience of God (part 2)
(Arthur W. Pink, 1886-1952)
“The God of patience” (Rom. 15:5) is one of the Divine titles. Deity is thus denominated, first, because God is both the Author and Object of the grace of patience in the saint. Secondly, because this is what He is in Himself: patience is one of His perfections. Thirdly, as a pattern for us: “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering” (Col. 3:12). And again, “Be ye therefore followers (emulators) of god, as dear children” (Eph. 5:2). When tempted to be disgusted at the dullness of another, or to be revenged on one who has wronged you, call to remembrance God’s infinite patience and longsuffering with yourself.
The patience of God is manifested in His dealings with sinners. How strikingly was it displayed toward the antediluvians. When mankind was universally degenerate, and all flesh had corrupted his way, God did not destroy them till He had forewarned them. He “waited” (1 Pet. 3:20), probably no less than one hundred and twenty years (Gen. 6:3), during which time Noah was a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Pet. 2:5). So, later, when the Gentiles not only worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, but also committed the vilest abominations contrary to even the dictates of nature (Rom. 1:19-26), and hereby filled up the measure of their iniquity; yet, instead of drawing His sword for the extermination of such rebels, God “suffered all nations to walk in their own ways,” and gave them “rain from heaven and fruitful seasons”(Acts 14:16, 17).
Marvelously was God’s patience exercised and manifested toward Israel. First, He “suffered their manners” for forty years in the wilderness (Acts 13:18). Later, when they had entered Canaan, but followed the evil customs of the nations around them, and turned to idolatry; though God chastened them sorely, He did not utterly destroy them, but in their distress, raised up deliverers for them. When their iniquity was raised to such a height that none but a God of infinite patience, could have borne them, He, notwithstanding, spared them many years before He allowed them to be carried down into Babylon. Finally, when their rebellion against Him reached its climax by crucifying His Son. He waited forty years ere He sent the Romans against them, and that only after they had judged themselves “unworthy of eternal life” (Acts 13:46).
How wondrous is God’s patience with the world today. On every side people are sinning with a high hand. The Divine law is trampled under foot and God Himself openly despised. It is truly amazing that He does not instantly strike dead those who so brazenly defy Him. Why does He not suddenly cut off the haughty, infidel and blatant blasphemer, as He did Ananias and Sapphira? Why does He not cause the earth to open its mouth and devour the persecutors of his people, so that, like Dathan and Abiram, they shall go down alive into the Pit? And what of apostate Christendom, where every possible form of sin is now tolerated and practiced under cover of the holy name of Christ? Why does not the righteous wrath of Heaven make an end of such abominations? Only one answer is possible: because God bears with “much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.”
And what of the writer and the reader? Let us review our own lives. It is not long since we followed a multitude to do evil, had no concern for God’s glory, and lived only to gratify self. How patiently He bore with our vile conduct! And now that grace has snatched us as brands from the burning, giving us a place in God’s family, and begotten us unto an eternal inheritance in glory; how miserably we requite Him. How shallow our gratitude, how tardy our obedience, how frequent our backslidings! One reason why God suffers the flesh to remain in the believer is that He may exhibit His “longsuffering to usward” (2 Pet. 3:9). Since this Divine attribute is manifested only in this world, God takes advantage to display it toward His own.
May our meditation upon this Divine excellency soften our hearts, make our consciences tender, and may we learn in the school of holy experience the “patience of saints,” namely, submission to the Divine will and continuance in well doing. Let us earnestly seek grace to emulate this Divine excellency. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48): in the immediate context Christ exhorts us to love our enemies, bless them that curse us, do good to them that hate us. God bears long with the wicked notwithstanding the multitude of their sin, and shall we desire to be revenged because of a single injury?