“In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.” – 2 Peter 1:5-7.
Years ago, it was pretty common to see a bumper sticker that read, “Be Patient! God isn’t done with me yet.” This bumper sticker tells us a great deal about our perceptions and expectations: it demands nothing of the driver and subtly shifts the burden of patience to the person following the driver. Patience is something we all want from others but likely don’t desire for ourselves because, after all, who has time to be patient.
James 5:7-10 tells us to be patient. It says: “Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near. Don’t grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. For look—the Judge is standing at the door! For examples of patience in suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.”
One person defined patience as the second and third hour of monopoly. The fact is patience doesn’t come easy for many of us. The Bible says it is important to be patient. Jesus serves as a shining example of patience. Jesus was very patient with His disciples. They were sometimes thickheaded, lazy, selfish, and slow to believe. We would find that frustrating but think of God Incarnate interacting daily with them. In spite of Jesus’ miracles and words of wisdom, they were often focused upon themselves and wavered in their belief about who He really was. That had to be frustrating for Jesus, yet He never rails at their foolishness or makes fun of their mistakes. That can best be described as self-control and humility.
We too must be patient with others. And that’s not always easy. Many of the people we must deal with—and sometimes even live with—can be obstinate, frustrating, selfish, inconsiderate, and absolutely impossible to please. They say and do the wrong things at the wrong time. Sometimes, they are standing on our last nerve. At that point, we need to realize that patience flows from understanding. We are too quick to judge, and we are too prone to treat our others harshly. They too have troubles—bills to pay, sick children, spouses to please, bosses to impress, and heartaches to bear. Because God is patient and long-suffering, we need to give the other person a break.
We cannot let impatience run our lives. Impatience is a way to blind us. Yes, sometimes it is hard to be patient, but in those times we need to remember who God is and what He has done for us. An important step we can take to develop patience is to give God control of our life. “I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.” (Psalm 40:1)
- How would you define patience? In what ways does God show patience toward you?
- What can we do this week to show patience to others?