Romans 2:4-5 (TNIV) -
"Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience,
not realizing that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance.?
But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart,
you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath,
when his righteous judgment will be revealed."
I visit a psychologist a couple times of year to help me sort out some things in my normal life, as well as receive wisdom for the decisions I need to make. In doing a personality profile, it came out that I can be very stubborn. To be honest, I didn't really need a personality profile to reveal that truth to me, but I did need it so that I would do something about it. And sad to say, my stubborness is pervasive throughout my life. Stubbornness is the negative side of my patience/perseverance.
And so often I stubbornly refuse to accept the fact that through Jesus I can stand/kneel/live forgiven of my bad deeds. And yet I patiently wait for God to help me accept that fact.
Paul wants us to grasp this fact: most everybody is on a level moral playing field. There are some very vicious people who have committed outrageous crimes against humanity. And then there is everybody else - nobody is perfect, and everybody hurts someone else one way or another. The stubborn heart refuses to repent of any wrongdoing. The repentant heart accepts the truth of its wrongdoing and is willing to find freedom/salvation/forgiveness. Woe to the unrepentant - those blind/deaf/stubborn in how they hurt others.
Paul was writing from the heart on this issue, he is writing in part autobiographically and as a minister. The church in Rome is facing great divisions: racisim between Jews and Gentiles, discrimination: between men and women, in equalities: slavery and poverty, and violence. And he wants these churchmembers who struggle with these issues to be honest and say one at a time: I am in the wrong. Yes I have been wronged. But I also have wronged others. I repent.
Paul needs them to do this, to unite as one so that they can support his missionwork in Spain. When Roman churches are united in heart, they can be a model for the new Spanish converts, as well as a source of goods and services needed to alleviate the poverty there and demonstrate the generosity of Jesus.
God I'm glad that you are rich in kindness, forbearance and patience to me.