Romans 2:4 "Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?"
Romans 3:25 "Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God".
Today's post is about a wonderful quality of God's character that the King James translates as His 'forbearance'. To forbear someone is described in the Oxford English Dictionary as: "enduring with, bearing up with, controlling oneself in the absence of a desired thing, patiently retraining oneself from doing something." Hence, when God is described as being "forbearing", He is preventing Himself from exercising what otherwise would be well-deserved justice. Oftentimes God's forbearance will be connected to His mercy, with the distinction being that God is choosing to continually extend His mercy beyond what may seem to be a long-than-expected period of time.
The above passages highlight this quality of God. For God to continue with His people for 40 years in the desert despite their grumbling is an example of how He chooses to love and show mercy, despite the fact they deserved to be wiped out. Such behavior by God can only be described by His forbearance.
The two passages in Romans highlight how God's forbearance leads us to repentance and functioned as the backdrop for Jesus' work on the cross. Imagine what would had occurred if God had not exercised forbearance? There would be no grace of repentance nor cross. For God to be forbearing meant that the quality had to be resident in His very being. The cross did not arise as a reaction to our plight, but rather resulted from God's eternal forbearing decision to bring about the cross in spite of our well-deserved condemnation.
Forbearance refers to God holding out, delaying wrath and ever extending His mercy to those He calls; so that in turn, they may respond, believe, repent and be saved. Forbearance is the sprint of mercy operating in a marathon. God ever waits, retrains and patiently moves towards sinners He is desiring to affect, love and change for His glory. Would it be that we not take for granted God's forbearance.