The Self-Righteous Person’s Contempt for God’s Grace

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?
–Romans 2:4

Because the self-righteous person does not understand the seriousness of his own sin, he has contempt for God’s grace. Paul said in Romans 2:4, “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” The self-righteous person treats lightly the riches of God’s kindness.

Those of you who are parents understand what this means. Imagine saying to your child, “I want you to do some chores around the house: mow the lawn, or pick up your room, or do the dishes.” Your child says to you, “How much are you going to pay me for that?” You say, “Pay you? What about the food that you put in your mouth every day or the clothes you wear on your back or the bed you sleep in every night?” Your child looks at you, rolls his eyes, and says, “Big deal.” He is saying, “That is nothing. You owe those things to me.” He is treating lightly your kindness. That is why the self-righteous person is condemned before God. He has contempt for the goodness and grace of God. He believes God owes him those things.

In Romans 2:4, Paul revealed three gifts of God that self-righteous people treat lightly. First, they treat lightly God’s kindness. The word “kindness” refers to God’s general blessings to the non-Christian as well as the Christian, such as the gift of life, the gift of family, the gift of health, and the gift of rain. Self-righteous people treat those gifts lightly, saying, “God owes those things to us.” Second, they treat lightly God’s forbearance. The word “forbearance” refers to withholding judgment. The fact that God does not strike us dead when we sin and send us straight to Hell is because of His forbearance, His withholding judgment. Third, they treat lightly God’s patience. That word “patience” means long-suffering. Not only does God not strike us dead and judge us when we sin, but He keeps withholding that judgment. Why? Is it because He condones what we are doing? No. Paul said, “The kindness of God leads you to repentance” (2:4). If you are not yet a Christian, the only reason God has not slain you and sent you to Hell is that He wants you to repent and turn to Him. If you are a Christian engaged in secret sin, the only reason God has not exposed you and sent His discipline in your life is to give you one last chance to repent. In 2 Peter 3:9, Peter wrote, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” God does not condone what you are doing. He is giving you one last chance to repent.

But the self-righteous person does not understand that. He thinks God is obligated to show patience toward him. It is like the person who was engaged in sin–when somebody asked him, “Do you think God is going to forgive you of that sin?” he replied, “Of course He is going to forgive. That is His job.” That is what it means to treat lightly the grace of God.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Religious … Right in Hell” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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