There is a quality of God’s grace that is often overlooked. Grace is a multifaceted diamond. Each face reveals a new wonder of God and the grace he gives to us. There are a couple of passages that highlight this attribute and expose a beauty in God that we do not rejoice in enough. I know that I don’t.
Let’s look at them both. The first is Paul’s letter to the Church in Rome.
21But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26 ESV, emphasis added)
The second is found in the books of Acts.
30The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31 ESV, emphasis added)
What makes both of these passages so remarkable is that it explicitly makes the claim that God “passed over” and “overlooked” the sins of fallen men and women because it was not yet time to judge them. Now, I know that this time of overlooking culminated in Jesus. That the reason God did not execute justice on sinners was because God was waiting until he could unleash his wrath for all sin, for all time at the cross. So, I am not trying to split a hair or make a theological point contrary to the implications of the text.
My hope is to highlight that God has revealed that, in his grace, he does not smite sinners instantaneously for their sin so that they might come to know repentance and might have an opportunity for a restored relationship with God the Father. That God’s loving-kindness is better than we realize, when we realize what could have been!
As each day draws us closer to the celebration of God’s miraculous salvation of lost souls in Jesus, I hope we spend a little more time thinking about how good God’s grace really is.