4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
not knowing [realizing] that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
God’s kindness should lead people to repentance. Willful ignorance in God’s view is culpable to His judgment.
The word “goodness” here is not exactly the same as the word in the earlier part of the verse. However, the use of both words demonstrates that God is good and kind in the process of bringing people to Himself. His common grace should lead people to repent.
“Repentance” means change of mind. This is our change of mind about how God thinks about us—He thinks about us with goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering. Repentance has the idea of the military command “About face!” Soldiers stand in one direction and their sergeant commands them to stand in the opposite direction. In our case, people with negative volition need an “about face” from turning their backs on God to facing His grace manifested in His attributes. This is a radical change in viewpoint. Up to this point, their negative volition has failed to bring them to repentance.
God’s common grace should lead non-believers to accept His special grace of providing salvation freely through the cross.
When we realize that God tolerates us because of His attributes (which are not softness), it should impact us enough to change our attitude toward Him. However, many do not think about those attributes and ultimately despise them by neglecting them. We despise God’s attributes by using God’s mercy against Him.
Moralists completely miss the point that the essence of God’s character leads people to repentance. If you have never embraced Jesus as your Savior, you need to look at God’s common grace before you make a negative decision about Him. Common grace allows us to live in God’s creation—grace that includes health, a secure country, or gainful employment.
Knowing about God’s attributes should lead us to repentance. God in His character has the proclivity to exercise tolerance toward sinners. This tolerance does not approve of our sins. He does exercise patience toward us out of His common grace and not out of weakness.
However, men today trade on God’s mercy and common grace. That is a serious mistake. Many have a hope of impunity because of their own morality. They think they have exemption from the standard God claims for Himself. Their self-righteousness blinds them to the absolute righteousness of God. God’s answer to this tension is found in chapters 3-5.