There’s a strange sentiment I’ve heard repeated many times that goes something like this: “God is a gentleman. He won’t force His way into your life, but just waits patiently for you to come to Him.” It sounds nice at face value. After all, being a gentleman is a good thing. It conveys a certain refinement, thoughtfulness, well-roundedness, skill at interpersonal relationships, and to state the obvious, someone who is “gentle” and not brash, harsh, rough, insensitive, or crass. And certainly, God IS gentle. His gentleness makes us great (Psalm 18:35), and Jesus is gentle and humble in heart to those who are crushed by the burden of trying to earn salvation or crushed by the difficulties of life in a fallen world (Matthew 11:28-30). Praise God for His gentleness!
But when it comes to salvation, I praise God that He is NOT a gentleman…at least not like the quote would have it! If God was a gentleman in that sense, we would all be lost in our sin forever and never come to a knowledge of the truth. Yes, He is patient for His people to reach repentance, and our eternal well-being depends on that patience. Yet if God sat back and just waited for us to be smart enough to see our own sin, or intelligent enough to cure our own spiritual blindness, or strong enough to overcome our own flesh, we’d all perish with that kind of “gentleman.” The Apostle Paul is probably pretty glad that God was not a “gentleman” with him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). Lot is probably pretty glad that God’s angels yanked him away from Sodom when he was lingering in his desire to stay behind (Genesis 19). The disciples are probably pretty glad that Jesus didn’t say, “Hey, maybe possibly consider following Me when you’re ready and it seems like a good idea to you, because I really want to be a gentleman to you guys” but rather commanding, “Follow Me (Mark 1:17).”
And that is one of the reasons that God is so wonderful. Perfect gentleness meets perfect sovereignty and authority. Praise God that He is gentle, and praise God that He is not always a gentleman.