Patience is not my strong suit, as anyone who really knows me can testify. Thankfully, our God is perfectly patient. But, we dare not mistake His patience for righteous indignation. His is both patiently merciful and exacting in judgment.

"A jealous and avenging God is the LORD; The LORD is avenging and wrathful. The LORD takes vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies. The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, And the LORD will by no means leave the guilty unpunished ... Who can stand before His indignation? Who can endure the burning of His anger? His wrath is poured out like fire And the rocks are broken up by Him. The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble, And He knows those who take refuge in Him." (Nahum 1.2-3, 6-7)

Knowing that God is both merciful and avenging presses the issue of knowing where we stand with Him. Cowering in fear at the prospect of harsh punishment, or flippantly dismissing Him as so kindly and merciful as to never harm a flea? The answer is determined by our active relationship with His Son (Romans 8.1)

Knowing both of these aspects of our God enhances our relationship with Him. Knowing what He could do in judgment should invoke healthy respect and awe. As Isaiah the prophet said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts." (Isaiah 6.5)

But, we should ever be lost in wonderment at His mercy shown through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 9.5) That awe, respect, and profound gratitude is the fountain from which springs a God-pleasing lifestyle, dedicated service, and fervent outreach to those without His favor through Christ.

©Steve Taylor, 2017 --Used by permission

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