Romans 2:4 – Do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance? (NIV)
When I was a boy, I felt rebellious whenever my parents would "order" me to do something. Being a somewhat "wilful" child, a mountainous "resistance" rose within me at the sound of a command.
Then there were those other times when I was asked. Somehow, when my mother suggested I might do something, even something at which I would normally have balked, it seemed impossible to refuse.
How could a suggestion be so much more powerful than a command? Perhaps it was because I wanted to be 'my own man' and independent, yet at the same time I loved my parents, and wanted to please them. When my mother made a request with lovingkindness, my love for her overpowered my rebellion.
Our Lord God has sent us many commands and instructions. The Hebraic Laws, and all the miraculous examples recorded by that people, are quite specific, and very coherent. The love of God was shown, not rarely, but many times, in His providential care of the Israelites, as He explained how He wants us to behave, giving specific details.
Then, in case we missed the point, he sent us His Son, to show His towering love, reaching down to our human level to present His commands in a different way.
What my mother did for me as a child, in a much larger way Jesus did for us all. With his very life he re-framed God's commands with such uncompromising compassion and unquestionable love as to overwhelm our rebellious hearts. It is all too easy to resist, and rebel, and "do things our own way". But God knows best, and He really does love us. If we understand and believe and obey the greatest commandment, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind," (Matthew 22:37) then even His most "impossible" command will seem as a loving suggestion: impossible to refuse.
Prayer: Holy Lord, You have reached down so far to help us understand your love. May our love for you grow always so that your commands may meet no resistance in our hearts. Amen.