God is patient and long-suffering, and his just discipline progresses slowly.
In the Old Testament, we see the slow discipline of God presented in the books of 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles and most of the major and minor prophets. God is not quick to use foreign nations as his agents of discipline, but due to his people’s persistent rebellion, pagan threat leads to hostile aggression; this leads to plundering and forced taxation; this transitions to infestation and devastation; which ultimately leads to exile and national annihilation. God has been warning his people of their wicked trajectory. Prophet after prophet, king after king came and went, but the Chosen People refused to relent of their iniquity. And as was promised, finally and harshly, the hand of God came down. But he was not quick in allowing this tragedy to happen.
In the New Testament, we see the slow discipline of God presented in the first chapter of Romans. As men continue to walk in rebellion, God progressively leaves them be and turns them over to increased levels of depravity. Slowly, but consistently, God removes his restraining hand of grace, and individuals find themselves more and more buffeted by God’s disciplinary hand and the harsh consequences of their sin. God is quick to judge, but slow in exercising judgment. He is holy and unrelenting, but he is also patient, long-suffering, slow in exercising his harsh discipline.
And so it is today. God does not seem to allow men to ruin their lives in a moment. Most individuals do not become enraptured in debt quickly. No, financial ruin comes after many years of materialistic covetousness and living above one’s means. For most, strong drink does not overtake them immediately. Happy marriages do not become hellish over night. Obesity requires a continued disregard of God’s design for man’s health and his principle of self-control. Yes, repetitive practice is required for addictions. Lives are not utterly ruined overnight, for God seems to withdraw his hand of common grace slowly and over a long period of time.
However, while God is slow in expressing his judgment and giving men exactly what they deserve; he is quick in expressing his compassion and mercy. Consider the immediate revival of Nebuchadnezzar, the woman of Samaria, the thief on the cross, and Saul of Tarsus. Nineveh was transformed in a month. Jonah was reformed in three days. King David experience his revival after one tender meeting with Nathan. Matthew spent many years swindling money from his Hebrew neighbors, but in a moment he found himself a disciple of Christ. And such is the testimony of many Christ-followers in the church. Years were spent in vanity and pride, but one meeting with Jesus led to a total change in trajectory. Yes, God is slow to express his anger, discipline, and judgment; and he is quick to express his undeserved compassion and grace.
So, what will you do? Will you continue down the prodigal road that leads to ultimate destruction? Will you continue to forsake the Lord and be turned over to increased levels of depravity? Will you heap sin upon sin until the day that you perish? Or will you turn right now? Perhaps God is using this devotional to open your eyes to your increasingly abhorrent spiritual condition. Perhaps right now the Holy Spirit is lovingly tormenting your heart, and you find yourself wishing to be done with your sin and reconciled to your God. Such reconciliation is possible today! Your sinful soul can be cleansed. Your guilt can be taken away. Your trajectory changed. Repentance is all you need; so call on the Lord while their is still time. (And I am concluding there is still time because you are reading this devotional right now.)
And what will you be? Friends, become Christ-like in dealing with your children, your spouse, your neighbors, and your enemies. Grow in long-suffering grace. Be quick to make right judgments according to the Word of God, but very slow to exercise judgment. Be quick to express mercy and grace, and slow to express discipline. God is slow to anger and quick to reconcile; and so too must we are who children of the Heavenly Father.