Thoughts on Patience | From The Pastor's Desk
I often cite this joke regarding patience, “if GOD wanted me to have patience (patients) He would have made me a doctor. But the virtue of patience is no joke and is a vital fruit of the Spirit given by Paul in Galatians 5:22, 23. So what is patience? The Greek word for patience is makrothumia which has two basic meanings.
The first is forbearance which Webster defines as: command of temper; restraint of passions. It means that when one is patient, they are not rash in their actions or words. They restrain their initial impulse so that they would not act with impatience. GOD is patient to us as stated by Peter in 2 Peter 3:9 EHV: The Lord is not slow to do what he promised, as some consider slowness. Instead, he is patient for your sakes, not wanting anyone to perish, but all to come to repentance. GOD is acting in forbearance by withholding his judgment so that people have time to repent and be saved. If GOD punished us immediately when we sin, then there would be no opportunity for repentance.
We are to be patient with other people as well. The selfless love of GOD does not take offence at what others say or do but it waits as it withholds punitive action for the other person to realize their error. And even if they do not realize the error of their ways, we extend patience or forbearance by forgiving their error. Patience is therefore GOD’s love in action. We want to express the love of GOD in our actions and our words lest we become impatient, and we act or speak unkindly to others. Such unkind words or actions will give someone the wrong idea of who GOD is, but when we act kindly because of patience that the true nature of GOD is exhibited.
The other meaning of patience has to do with endurance or perseverance. In this life we are going to face many challenges and trials. It is not the absence of challenges and trials that builds our faith, but it is the manner in which we face them. If we give up in face of adversity than we loss faith, but if we persevere through challenges and trials then we build our faith. James put it this way in James 1:2-4: My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
We need to endure through every trial because GOD has allowed it so that our faith, which is trust in GOD, may grow stronger with each passing trial. Paul likens this process to a race, Hebrews 12:1, 2: Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Paul is telling us that the race of life is filled with challenges and trials but that we must not give up for at the end of the race if we have endured them with love and patience that there is a great reward for us. That reward is an eternity with our heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus, who desire to lavish blessings on us for all eternity as we praise and worship him for His great love to us. And we can finish this race because Jesus is there to help us at every step of the journey for He has promised to not only be the giver of our faith but also the one who will complete our faith.
So lets keep our eye on the prize as we run this race and let us heed the encouragement of Paul, 1 Corinthians 9:24 NLT: Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! And this is how Paul ran his race, Philippians 3:12-14 NLT: I don’t mean to say that I have
already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
Let us be like Paul and run our race to win the heavenly prize.