Awhile back I spent some time thinking about the idea that God does not “mark our iniquities” as David says. And along with that idea is the one that says, “Love covers a multitude of sins.” I know some of you have thought about these verses a lot, too.
The hard part is understanding how God in his justice can “overlook” or “ignore” sin. We know practically that if we were to lovingly correct our children, husbands, fellow believers, any and every time we saw them sinning, that we would crush their spirits. And we recognize that God does not discipline us for every sin in our lives, all at once. Have you ever had your sin revealed to you, and you were amazed that you never saw it before?
We also recognize that God’s timing in our fellow believers’ lives is not our own. We become frustrated when other believers don’t change immediately upon seeing the Scriptures on some topic. It’s clear as the nose on their face, but they don’t understand or get it yet. Is it possible that the Holy Spirit isn’t ready to work on that sin yet? That maybe He’s got a different agenda? Sometimes, I think this is the case.
Does God’s patience mean that He is unrighteously allowing sin in our lives? Far from it. We see much in the Bible about God’s longsuffering nature, his mercy and grace. He remembers that we are but dust. It makes sense, then, that part of His mercy and omniscience is knowing exactly when to bring up an area of growth in our lives. I’m always amazed at how God brings events in place when we’re ready. I think of hard things God has given me– like a dad with a terminal illness, a seven-month separation from my husband, and so on, and then I realize that God is using those things in my life to teach me about himself, lessons I was not ready for when I was twenty. Along with those lessons were some sin problems– selfishness with my time, laziness and poor stewardship with taking care of my house, prideful criticism. I didn’t see some of those problems, either, perhaps because God was working on other things in my life: contentment and compassion, for example.
As parents, we see far more sins in our children’s lives than we should deal with all at once. We choose what takes a highest priority at the time. We sometimes wait until the time is right to deal with a pattern of sin we see. Remember when Jesus told us “Be ye merciful as your father is merciful”? I wonder if this is one of the ways we show mercy.
This portion from mom’s book Parenting with Wisdom was helpful for me to think about:
Recognizing the power of love and kindness helps us better understand why God said to Isarael, “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jeremiah 31:3). God uses love and kindness to draw Israel closer to Himself in a relationship of obedience. In Romans we read a fascinating passage addressed to a rebelling soul, “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Romans 2:4).
You might think God would immediately judge the wickedness of offenders and exact justice upon them, as they deserve. But God is forbearing and patient, and in love gives sinners space to repent and turn to Him b efore they experience the righteous judgment of God. As parents, we sometimes become too quick to come down harshly on an erring child and fail to discipline in love with understanding and patience. We often fail to understand the importance of drawing children close to ourselves with love and kindness so that our discipline and instruction is received with a willing heart. (from “How to Really Love Your Child,” pp. 49-51)