Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? Romans 2:4
This is how Eugene Peterson translates this verse, “Or did you think that because he’s such a nice God, he’d let you off the hook? Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change” (Romans 2:4 The Message).
God’s kindness is meant to cause us to change. Often we use nagging, threats, or punishment as a way to change behaviour. While these may bring temporary change they won’t change someone’s attitude and therefore won’t bring lasting change. God seeks lasting change. He wants to change our hearts, knowing that once our hearts are right our behaviour will follow.
Jesus was harsh with the Pharisees because they only cared about outward appearances and he had this to say about them: “In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness” (Matthew 23:28).
God’s way of changing people is to show them kindness when they have done nothing to merit it. We cannot justify ourselves before a holy God, not with our penance, or our performance, or our sacrifice. When we’re confronted with God’s amazing grace and fully realize that we are recipients of the most undeserved mercy, we are humbled. Humbled because we know we have not done anything that is worthy of God’s favour and then … we change. We change because we are so grateful and want to please the one who has shown us such great love.