The sage preacher once said, “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil” (Ecclesiastes 8:11). Sinners can be teachable, especially when others are getting caught. They’re not concerned about violating a principle but about avoiding punishment. In Solomon’s day a delay could occur between the sentence being sorted out and carried out. How much more license in our day when judges can’t even define an “evil deed.”
The children of men take a similar approach to God’s justice. Sin today often has no consequences tomorrow, so it seems. Many sinners appear to be profiting, flourishing, basking in their sin. There are no negative consequences, and apparently not any judgment from God. So it must be okay with God, right?
This is a category mistake. Whether or not something is right is not determined by rapid results. Turn it around to the positive. Broccoli for one dinner doesn’t make a bodybuilder by breakfast. A diligent day sowing seed in the field requires more than a week to see the fruit.
And Paul told the Romans that delayed judgment is not due to God’s lack of will, but instead from God’s will to be kind. “Do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is mean to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4) God isn’t failing, He’s extending forgiveness.
The apostle addressed unbelievers but it is a good reminder for the justified as well. Just because Jesus paid for our unrighteousness doesn’t mean that we can keep on committing it without consequence. Because God is patient and kind, repent.