4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
The word “or” further develops the argument of verses one through three. In addition to being deceived and obtuse to their own action, the moralists despise God’s riches of His common grace.
do you despise the riches
People who think that they will escape God’s judgment because of their personal morality (2:3) despise God’s riches. They treat God’s grace as of no account. The word “despise” means to show contempt, disdain. The idea is to hold a low opinion of someone or something. The literal idea is down on. They look down their nose toward God’s grace.
“Riches” denotes God’s provisions arising out of His gracious character. Negative volition minimizes God’s blessing. Most people give little thought to what God does for them. If they do give some heed to God’s provision, they don’t think much of it. This is arrogant aversion to the God of the universe.
This posture is quite an attitude toward God—an ingratitude toward God’s gracious attributes. It is amazing that there are those who place themselves on a high enough pedestal to look down on God. When man reaches this point, he makes himself god and the ultimate authority for his or her life.
of His goodness [kindness],
“Goodness” is kindness in action. God is benevolent generosity. He has a sense of goodwill toward sinners. There are two Greek words for good: (1) intrinsic goodness that also contains the idea of rebuke (agathos), (2) goodness that is always kind (chrestos). The goodness here is the second of the two words—God’s benevolent activity toward us. This is God’s moral goodness toward us demonstrated in His common grace toward all men.
God’s goodness is His common grace to all men, believer and unbeliever alike. This is not same as the grace God gives to those who trust in the cross to forgive their sins.
“Forbearance” is tolerance. Literally, the word means to hold back. It carries the idea of a truce between warring parties. God does not take action toward us immediately after we sin, but He holds back the wrath that is due. He has a certain patience toward sinners; He gives us time to repent. However, this forbearance lasts only for a period.
The word “longsuffering” is a close synonym to the previous word “forbearance.” Longsuffering is a long temper. The duration of God’s judgmental action toward us is long. He does not immediately punish sin.
There are two Greek words for patience; one means patience with circumstances and the other means patience with people. The word here means patience with people. God could take revenge but does not do so. He is slow to avenge wrongs against Himself.
The fundamental problem of the moralist is that he puts his own work above the work of God.
The issue every man must face is whether he will put his own righteousness over the righteousness of God. His righteousness is relative but God’s righteousness is absolute. No matter how good man is, his goodness is only relative to that of other men. Man’s righteousness is not the issue with God’s view of things. He demands that we face the issue of His righteousness.
When we come to the cross, we must reject our own works and then accept the work of Christ on the cross. The issue is work versus work. The question is which work we will rest upon, Christ’s or ours.