4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
I once had a conversation with a pastor who attempted to use verse 4 as an explanation for not pointing out people’s sins, but to only speak to them about the love of God. He claimed that everyone knows they are a sinner, but no one knows that God loves them. The problem with this thinking is that it assumes much. I would agree that most, if not all, people would admit that they were not perfect, but that does not mean they would all admit that they were sinners, nor does it mean they understand the true nature of sin against a holy God. Most people, even Christians, play down the severity of their sins and really don’t think much about the consequences that come from sinning against God himself. Here in Romans Paul is discussing the nature of sin, rebellion against God, and the suppression of the knowledge of God. So when he comes to verse 4 he speaks of the kindness, forbearance and patience of God, but why? He does so because God should condemn all who sin against him immediately, but he doesn’t he holds back his judgment through his common grace to all mankind. This act of mercy and grace is meant to reveal to the lost sinner that they are under his judgment, but forgiveness is available. That’s why Paul goes on to say that the hardness of their hearts continues to store up wrath for the day of wrath. Now this does not mean we need to breathe hell, fire and brimstone down on people, but in order for them to understand the love and grace of God they must first come to the realization that they are sinners in need of a savior. They will understand the full beauty of the gospel message against the black backdrop of their sin. So don’t be afraid to encourage people to see their sin because once they do you can call them to repentance and to the gospel forgiveness in Jesus Christ. One another note, just as a word of encouragement – take some time to meditate on the kindness, forbearance, and patience God showed to you that brought repentance to your life and salvation to your soul. Let those thoughts well up inside you creating a heart of gratitude towards your Savior.