Doug and I are reading Romans together during our morning quiet times. Sometimes we discuss, while other times we simply write down our own thoughts. Working through it with him has helped me, though, because he and I process so differently.
You see, I need a series of small pieces that I can then put together to form a big picture. Doug, on the other hand, grasps the big picture quickly and then fills in the small pieces later. Romans is a big picture kind of book. It’s hard to glean much from the small pieces of Romans – the verses, paragraphs, or even chapters – without being able to grasp an overall message of Romans.
Even so, sometimes little nuggets jump out at me. They grab me and do no let go, leaving me to mull over them for days.
Such is the case with this verse.
Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? Romans 2:4
Many times when I read a verse like this, I make sure to stick within the context and really evaluate how it fits into the overall message of the passage. But on the day I read this, my mind just went nuts. I started writing like crazy, trying to capture the thoughts flowing through my mind. I came up with three interconnected thoughts.
How often do I take on an attitude of entitlement? God lavishes His kindnesses and riches over me. He always has. I know I’m His daughter, and He treats me as such. He disciplines me, but He also meets my every need. How often do I respond like a spoiled brat? How often do I fuss because He doesn’t provide like I think He should? How often do I expect that He will work because, as His daughter, I am entitled to His provision? Ouch!
Or maybe I don’t feel entitled. In fact, that’s really more often the case. I pray and ask Him for help in various circumstances, but I really don’t feel as if I deserve it. Then I remind myself of His character. He is good. He is holy. He is our great Provider. So, whether I’m entitled or not, He’s going to do it, right? On the one hand, this realization can usher me into an attitude of beautiful praise. But at other times, it causes me to take His kindness for granted. It’s His character. He will do it. End of story. Ouch again!
When I follow Him rightly, my heart does not respond in either of the above ways. I do not feel entitled, nor do I take Him for granted. Instead, I cannot help but lift my heart in praise to Him. But, is that far enough, or do I stop too soon? Should I not go beyond praise to repentance and then back to praise again? He is so good to me. I do not deserve it. He does it anyway. I should praise Him. But, I must also make sure I am right with Him. His kindness should drive me to come before Him in complete repentance.
Even as I type this, I take a deep breath. God’s kindnesses are reflected all around me, and my awareness of them has been heightened profoundly. What will my heart’s response be?