2 Peter 3:8-9
The Lord's seemingly slow reaction to sin often puzzles believers. Why doesn't He immediately punish those who violate His principles? The succinct answer is found in 2 Peter 3--the Lord is patient so that all people have an opportunity to repent (v. 9).
In our humanness, we at times want people to suffer for wrongdoing. Jonah ran away from his duty to preach in Nineveh, because he expected that if the inhabitants repented, his gracious, compassionate God would relent about destroying the city. And that is precisely what came to pass. Instead of rejoicing in the Lord's success, the prophet complained about His treating the Ninevites with patience and mercy (Jonah 4:2).
Jonah was angry at God despite the fact that he himself had received divine mercy. (Unpleasant though it was, there are worse forms of discipline than being swallowed and regurgitated by a fish.)
More often than not, believers have ample reason to be thankful that the Lord, unlike human beings, is slow to anger. When we are stubborn and unrepentant, He waits patiently for us to respond to conviction. Discipline is painful to both the recipient and the one carrying it out. God prefers that we see the error of our ways, stop thinking that we're getting away with sin, and turn back to His righteous path.
The Lord places such a high value on repentance and maintaining fellowship that He is willing to delay punishment of sin. But only for a time. Eventually, His justice demands a penalty. Do not wait for discipline. Instead, do what's right, and turn your heart back toward God.
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