Romans 2:4b …not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?
Have you ever had a friend or someone in your life that believed in you and was for you, no matter what? Have you ever been that person for someone you know? The relationship is so strong and motivation so right that difficult things can be communicated because the trust is there.
Many years ago when we were involved in ministry, we moved back to an area we had lived in before. When we arrived we heard very negative things about two individuals we knew – Bill and Erik. Bill had been a very good friend and Erik was more of an acquaintance. Erik was a newer Christian and bit more radical. He had also been the recipient of some good things that I thought (at that time) should have come to me.
Although I am forgiven, I am still humbled by my very different responses to these two brothers. I was so troubled by what I heard that I met with Bill at our center late one night. I shared with him what I had become aware of and reaffirmed my love for him and our friendship. I let him know that I would help him in anyway that I could. We shared, wept and prayed with each other.
With Erik, the troubling things I heard fit with my perception of him. I simply wrote him off. Sometime later after we had moved away, the Lord confronted me with the question of why my responses to these two brothers were so different. As I pondered the question, the answer became so embarrassingly obvious: I loved Bill and didn’t love Erik!
When the Lord showed me this, it wasn’t like a trip to the woodshed or the Principal’s office. It was like a treasured friend taking me aside and sitting down with me for a talk. Although painful to hear, the relationship we had enabled me to hear Him and receive the truth about myself. Instead of experiencing rejection, my Lord had His arm around my shoulders – affirming me.
Because of God’s kindness, I was lovingly being offered insight into my own misbehavior so that I might repent and learn. Isn’t that one of the most marvelous realities of our life with Him? He will regularly show us where we need to change – and enable us to change – so that our lives will be a continuous, ongoing transformation into the image of Christ. May we all see that this is our daily way of life with Him and recognize His kindness.