16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[a]you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
A Scriptural study of the word “patient” and its forms reveal that it appears 45 times in the Bible. As one studies out these 45 occurrences it becomes clear that the Bible speaks about patience in 3 different categories.
- The Patience of God
First of all, the Bible talks about God’s patience which we may be tempted to think does not apply to us. Of course, God is patient, He is perfect while we are imperfect. So, we wrongly conclude that we should just pass over the Patience of God and go on to the other ways that patience is described in the Bible. But He is the basis and model for our patience. The goal is for us to be like Christ, to conform to Him and not to the culture, and while we don’t become God we are supposed to use God as our example. To keep our eyes on Christ and to allow the Holy Spirit to change us to become like Him. When it comes to patience 2 Peter 3:8-9 tells us, “But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. 9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” It’s here that we are reminded of how patient God is with people. People come with problems that will challenge your patience, but do you notice that God the Father is focus on them coming to faith not on the frustrations. One of the keys to being patient with people is a proper perspective. Many of us are making it about the frustrations instead of people coming to faith. The second key to patience is we need to focus on serving not selfishness. Notice that God’s focus is on people, His patience is centered around helping others. Look selfishness never serves patience, instead it will sever the spine of patience, leaving you crippled and callused. Many of us become impatient with people because we have put the spotlight on self not serving. Now think of how long God waited for you to accept His Son Jesus and for some of you He is still waiting. Think of all the ups and downs in your Christian walk, those seasons of sin and rebellion and yet the Father in His faithfulness patiently pursued you. We see the same thing in 1 Peter 3:20 where it tells us that “God waited patiently, in the days of Noah…” In the days of Noah, sin had become so widespread that God only spared 8 people during the flood. In spite of the stench of all the sin, God waited patiently while the ark was being built. Aren’t you glad God was patient? I’m sure it would have been tempting to just be done with the whole mess. I mean it’s only 8 righteous people and based on some scholars population predictions the percentage of righteous people would have been less that 1/10 of 1%…Yet God waited patiently. When you look at the stories of the Bible, it becomes abundantly clear that God operates on a totally different time table than we do. We often find ourselves bent out of shape because things don’t happen as quickly as we would like them to happen. The truth of the matter is that God doesn’t work on our timetable. Both Peter and the psalmist were not joking when they said a thousand years is like a day to God and a day is like a thousand years. Here is the point, the way God does things is often totally different from the way we would like for Him to do it. We want things to be done yesterday but God is in charge not us, He created time, so He is not bound by it therefore He is not in a hurry. We get in a hurry because we tend to focus on time more than God’s truth. We have become motivated more by our watches than God’s Word. When it comes to time we need to remember we need to stop listing to its ticking and learn to trust in God’s truth. Don’t forget that God appeared to Abraham when he was 75 and promised to make him a great nation. Very few fathers wait until they are 75 to begin a family, so you would expect God’s promise to be fulfilled quickly, but you know the story, 25 years passed before Abraham and Sarah had Isaac.” By the time the child was born, Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90. While God was patient, Abraham and Sarah were not and chose to take matters into their own hands and made a mess, one we are still living in today. God also told Abraham that every place his foot touched would be given to him. Yet this promise was not fulfilled on Abraham’s timetable either. While Abraham traveled many places during his life the only land Abraham owned was a cemetery plot. God kept His promise, Abraham’s descendants would leave the promised land 400 years later, but they would return. After 400 years in Egypt, the people would wander in the wilderness for 40 years. Then, they would enter the promised land, where they would remain a weak immature nation for many years. In reality Israel didn’t become a great nation for 900 years. Don’t forget that Jesus spent 33 years on earth but only began His public ministry at age 30. Now if I had been the one establishing the plan, I would have had Him hit the ground running. I mean 33 years is a short life, I would think He should make every minute count. But again, God’s perspective was very different. He was much more patient, Jesus waited 30 years after His birth to begin His public ministry. Most of us find it difficult to be kept waiting an hour, but God works at His own speed, not ours. I’m reminded of the words of Isaiah 40:13 “But those who wait on the LORD will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” If you want to FLY, RUN, and WALK you must learn to wait on God. Yes, patience has a price tag but a lack of patience costs far more. Let’s say a quart of oil cost $3.00, so you decide to save some money and not buy any it won’t be long before you will discover that it will cost thousands to rebuild that engine. Understanding how patient God has been with me prepares my heart to be patient with other people. In Ephesians 4:2 Paul says we are to be “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love.” And in Colossians 3:12 “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” These verses tell us that we are to be long-suffering with others just like God is with us. Why not take some time today and ponder how patient God has been with you not only in your past but also in your present. Then spend time in prayer thanking Him for the present of His patience in your life.
February 13, 2018 at 9:20 am
Very timely for me. Thank you for taking the time to write and publish these messages.