“But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared.” The Apostle had just described what we were and what we did. Our depravity, disobedience and delusion had been exposed in verse three. There was nothing desirable or winsome in man, the fallen man. Lawless and loveless, hateful and hating one another, man deserved nothing but punishment, eternal punishment. Driven out of the original garden of divine pleasure, provision and fellowship, there was no way back to divine-human relationship, fellowship and partnership. “But the kindness and love of God appeared”! That is what changed the situation – the kindness and the love of God. The Greek word translated “kindness” here is translated “goodness” in Romans 2:4; 11:22, rendered “good” in Romans 3:12. Our redemption, salvation,provision or preservation is totally unmerited. Whatever spiritual blessing or temporal benefit we have or enjoy is due to the goodness of God, not our goodness. Nothing in us qualifies us for God’s favour or fellowship; nothing in us merits His common or uncommon provision, His usual and unusual gifts. We earn nothing of His grace, goodness or gifts. It is all of grace. Without God’s indispensable goodness, we shall be miserable and lost forever.
1. God’s Undeserved Grace For Hateful Sinners
Titus 3:4,7; Romans 3:23-27; 11:6; 4:4,5,16; 5:1,2,17; Ephesians 2:5,8,9; 1 Timothy 1:12-14.
“The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works” (Psalm 145:9). The plan of salvation was founded on the love of God. His grace, His unmerited favour, His undeserved goodness has given us salvation through the sacrifice of His only begotten Son. “Scarcely for a righteous man will one die…But God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” And this “kindness and love of God” is not restricted or limited to a selected, favoured few. “The LORD is good to ALL.” “The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Because God is rich in mercy and for His great love wherewith He loved us, He has extended His gracious, saving hand to everyone. “His tender mercies are over ALL his works.” “According unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.” Forgiveness is unmerited; it is offered to all who will come to God through Christ who died that we might live. Cleansing, conversion, new life and adoption into God’s family, fellowship with God here and in eternity, are all ours through unmerited grace and goodness.
2. Gradual Undeniable Growth Of His Sons
1 Peter 2:1,2; Ecclesiastes 11:5,6; Judges 16:22; Hosea 14:5-7; Mark 4:26-29; Ephesians 4:14,15; Psalm 92:12-14; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Peter 3:18.
The spiritual growth of a baby, a babe in Christ, a believer, may be unnoticed from day to day but there is sure uninterrupted growth if the baby or the believer is properly fed and well-cared for. There is an all-inclusive growth, an all-round growth that is desirable and inevitable if we live, feed, exercise, work and rest properly, appropriately and proportionately each day. We may not see or notice the growth each day; we may not know “how the bones grow”, how spiritual stamina increases, how strong conviction develops, how the backbone of courage builds up slowly but surely, how resistance and resilience grow, but daily fellowship, feeding and faithfulness will not fail to produce growth. Struggling to grow and watching, measuring, questioning and evaluating the growth moment by moment can be frustrating and discouraging. Even physical, emotional, social growth and development may not be easily measured or noticed on daily basis. Spiritual growth is “as if a man should cast seed into the ground; and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how” (Mark 4:26,27). Development and deterioration or degeneration take place without being noticed each day. Daily neglect brings deterioration and degeneration; daily nurture and nourishment bring development.
3. Great Undeveloped Gifts Of His Servants
1 Timothy 4:14-16; 2 Timothy 1:6,7; Romans 12:6-8; 1 Peter 4:10; Acts 2:38,39; 1 Corinthians 12:1,4-11; Hebrews 2:4; Romans 11:29; Ephesians 4:7-12; 2 Corinthians 9:15.
The babe, the believer, the Bishop. The child, the son, the servant. He gives us grace and goodness, grace and gifts, grace and glory. He commissions those He has called and He equips those He commissions. Employers and contractors give appropriate tools for work to their employees and workmen. God has given each divinely appointed minister necessary gifts to fulfil the ministry, accomplish divinely set goals and finish the task. Gifts? We have the gifts but we must develop, exercise and make use of them to reap a harvest of souls into God’s kingdom. Athletes learn, practise and exercise to develop their muscles, attitude, resilience, courage and endurance. The practice does not give the athlete new muscles but renewed muscles. Failure to develop will bring definite failure. What gifts we have! Gifts are not earned; they are bestowed on God’s sons and servants gratis, gratuitously. Undeveloped or underdeveloped gifts will not accomplish much. Let us grow up and then will our ministry and influence grow.