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Don’t misinterpret God’s patience as evidence that He doesn’t know or doesn’t see the evil you do. He does see—and what He sees pains Him greatly. But He loves you and thus He remains patient with you. Never imagine that God approves of your sin simply because He has let you get by with it, so far. God can never support evil or sin. But He is merciful. He is slow to anger, of great kindness, and He doesn’t want to bring pain into your life. He doesn’t want to bring His judgment—so don’t force Him to do so. God is so merciful that He often forestalls His judgment. You may deserve to be wiped out by God. You might be worthy of His most terrible judgment. But God is so merciful that if you’ll just call upon Him and seek Him with all of your heart, He will forgive you. His kindness and love make Him reluctant to bring judgment. Nevertheless, don’t mistake reluctance for refusal. God has made His stance very clear in several places in His Word, among them: If they break My statutes and do not keep My commandments, then I will punish their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes (Psalm 89:31-32). Still, even in tough passages like this one, He reveals His tender heart:

Nevertheless My lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him, nor allow My faithfulness to fail. My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips (Psalm 89:33-34). Perhaps the best way to respond to this is to remember the message of Psalm 103:17, which says, “The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him.” Who can expect His mercy? Those who fear Him, who never forget that He is the great King above all kings, the Creator of the universe and the Judge of all the earth. How important it is that we live in proper respect and reverence for God.

— Pastor Chuck Smith

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