“…and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation.” – 2 Peter 3:15
Peter wrote that we ought to look forward to our Lord’s return, and if His return is delayed, look upon that delay as the very thing that makes our salvation possible. There is no way around the fact that our salvation depends on the Lord’s longsuffering. If He were as impatient as we are, our opportunity for improvement would have run out long ago. If we end up being saved, we will owe that salvation to the Lord’s willingness to wait.
Opportunity for repentance. The Lord’s delay in returning is not license to enjoy our sins for a while longer; it’s and extended opportunity to get those things out of our character. Paul asked the pertinent question when he said, “Do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4).
Opportunity for spiritual growth. In terms of our spiritual maturity, none of us is where we need to be. We need more time to grow, and that is just what the Lord is giving us with His longsuffering. While He waits, we must use every day as a day of growth.
Opportunity for evangelism. Not only does the Lord’s longsuffering mean salvation for us, it can mean salvation for those around us, too. The more time we have before the end, the more time we have to get His message out to others. Every day the world still stands is a day that must be used evangelistically.
When Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, he used an expression that ought to suggest the most horrifying thing imaginable. He said, “We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain” (2 Corinthians 6:1). Do we receive the grace of God in vain? To do that would be to waste the patience and longsuffering that God has shown us, ending up being lost despite the fact that God waited and waited and waited. If God has not yet come to judge the world that does not mean that He is indifferent to evil; it means that He is still holding the door of salvation open. His longsuffering is nothing less than our salvation. We are the world’s greatest fools if we don’t see that.
“Hell is God’s justice; heaven is His love; earth, His longsuffering.” – Anonymous
-Gary Henry, Reaching Forward