Long-suffering is one of the most comforting attributes of God to His children who choose to meditate on it. To know that it is this quality of God that led me to repentance unto salvation in 1984, and continues to lead me to deeper repentance each day, makes me want to love Him more and more. His patience, never-ending kindness, and love are soul-stirring mind-occupations in a world filled with pain and rejection. To know you are loved by God and eternally accepted by Him in Christ is a treasure beyond compare. I trust you do know Him. If not, I pray you will know this kind and patient God very soon.
In The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Wilehlmus à Brakel applies the doctrine of the long-suffering of God to three spiritual conditions: the unsaved man, the saved man prior to conversion, and the saved.
- To the unsaved – “This is an essential attribute of God whereby He refrains Himself from initially pouring out His full wrath upon the sinner, thus postponing his punishment—meanwhile bestowing benefits upon him. It is God’s character to be long-suffering (Exod 34:6). The Lord is long-suffering towards sinners in a general sense. “Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Rom 2:4). “What if God…endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction?” (Rom 9:22).
- To the elect, prior to conversion – “God is long-suffering towards the elect prior to their conversion. “The Lord…is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet 3:9); “To declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” (Rom 3:25).
- To the saved – “God is long-suffering towards His children, as considered in their regenerate state, but not always chastising them for their sins (it being understood that the elect are not punished in the definitive sense of the word), but rather overlooking their failures and having much patience with them. “I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him” (Mal 3:17); “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear Him” (Psa 103:13).
“…because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom 3:25-26). Do you believe in Jesus? Are your sins washed in the blood of the Lamb? If not, turn to Him today. He will welcome you with open arms.