Patience (29 July 2018)
Dictionary: patience is waiting without complaint
Grandfather counting – “helped him be patient” but made my mother impatient with him.
He also advised “good sleeping is a sign of a clear conscience” – a comment which seems to make poor sleepers impatient.
Hard to be patient with someone who lets you know they are patient.
Sometimes you don’t have to be waiting to be patient!
It doesn’t take long to get impatient: When things go wrong or won’t go again – how patient are you? – Pull cord on mower – stupid computer…
Waiting itself does not test patience. Wait with a good book, knit – or play “patience” and waiting is no burden and you can wait without complaint.
Waiting without discomfort requires no patience.
Improve the definition: patience is enduring some discomfort without complaint.
This definition can apply to anyone but patience is a Christian virtue
What about Jesus’ examples of patience?
1. His patience with people
He was often patient with his disciples who so often exhibited an inability to pay attention and understand his teaching or even their own experience – they were slow to learn.
Luke 22:32-34 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”
— It tries our patience when people let us down. Jesus was patient with Peter even before he failed, knowing that he would. He was so patient he was patient in advance.
Matthew 8:26 In the storm on the lake just after miraculously feeding thousands and having loaded baskets of leftover miracles into their boat the disciples were terrified… “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
Matthew 15: 15 while Jesus was teaching, ‘Then Peter spoke up, “Explain this riddle to us.” Jesus said, “Don’t you understand yet?”’
2. His patience with God’s will and timing of events
Jesus Christ’s life was lived under the shadow of the cross. He was concerned that people should understand his ministry and therefore he exercised great patience, being directed by the Father in the priorities and timing of his ministry.
John 12:27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. “
He worked for some 30 years as a carpenter, knowing who he was, what his purpose was, what his life would fulfil and bring about. Did he ever feel over-qualified to be a carpenter? Did he need patience to do such a job? Did he think he had more important things to do? Do we get impatient when called on to keep doing the mundane, the ordinary? Have you been tempted to be impatient doing what you are expected to do when there are things you could do which seem so much more important?
3. His patience in suffering
Matthew 26:39-42 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
He acknowledged that he would have preferred not to take the course the Father had planned for him but he still submitted to the Father’s will.
Then, how did he respond when tormented and challenged at the mockery of a trial he faced and at his crucifixion? With patient silence, giving his tormenters no grounds to condemn him further.
4. Jesus Christ’s patience brings about God’s salvation
1 Timothy 1:16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.
How patient Jesus has been with me to bring me to faith and the gift of eternal life! How patient has Jesus been with you?
To follow Jesus we need to
- learn to be patient with people – even with ourselves
- Learn to be patient with God’s timing of events
- Find out how to be patient in suffering
- And hope that our example of patience might contribute to someone else finding salvation in Jesus.
If patience means enduring discomfort without complaint does that mean we must say nothing?
When on trial Jesus refused to justify himself – his life and deeds had done that for him.
Jesus’ responses to people and to God came from his patience, graciousness, submission and obedience and mostly because he was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Speaking when confronted with injustice or unfairness, especially when others are suffering, may be what we need to do.
To respond when we suffer is not unusual – and may at least be honest.
Jesus on the Cross: About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ ).
The psalmist showed honesty:
Psalm 10:1 Why, O lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
Psalm 142:2 I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble.
Why is this happening to me? God, why can’t you take this away? Father, I don’t like this – can we do it some other way?
Job’s friends, his comforters, advised and counseled him but could offer no comfort and he replied:
Job 13:1 ‘My eyes have seen all this, my ears have heard and understood it. What you know, I also know; I am not inferior to you. But I desire to speak to the Almighty and to argue my case with God.’
But when we have these normal and acceptable responses, our wish to question God’s way of doing things, remember how God replied to Job:
Job 38:1 Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said: ‘Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. ‘Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.”
The most outstanding example of patience comes from God himself. He is always ready to patiently hear our requests and even our complaints but we must inevitably understand that God is in charge and always has the final word. Father knows best.
Patience doesn’t come naturally to us.
Were you born with it? Were the children you know born with it? Or are you learning it?
Patience is a response to discomfort. Discomfort might mean as little as inconvenience, and irritation or as much as serious illness, pain and loss.
We seem to learn to be patient with people and with God’s timing more easily than being patient in suffering yet James teaches:
James 1:2Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
That’s what the Bible says. Perhaps you find it easier to follow this teaching more easily than I do. I wish I could ask you to follow my example on this matter – the best I can do is say let’s all try to follow Jesus’ example as to how to be patient in suffering.
There is a progression in this passage: patience is something we learn.
Trials => testing our faith => perseverance => maturity and completeness => not lacking anything – including patience!
So, since patience isn’t easy and does not come naturally or easily to us where does it come from?
Patience comes from the Holy Spirit of God:
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience (forbearance), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
- All the fruit of the Spirit comes as a bunch, a cluster.
- This fruit is typical of the character of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Being a temple of the Holy Spirit leads to the fruit of the Spirit showing up. It comes from the Holy Spirit, not from us.
- To be more fruitful in this fruit, to be more patient for example, we must seek to live open to the power of the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead dwelling in and with us.
- If I bear the fruit of the Spirit it’s not really for my benefit. I believe that we bear the fruit of the Spirit essentially for the benefit of the people we live with and meet.
If I show patience by enduring without complaint whatever form of discomfort comes my way then maybe my blood pressure will be better off but that doesn’t mean I enjoy the experience. However, those around me will be more comfortable!
More importantly I will be behaving in a more Christ like manner – which is, as I should be behaving. People in my company will enjoy the fruit the Holy Spirit bears in me and get a taste of what it is like to be with Jesus.
I’m sorry I said that because it shows me up as a failure as a Christian.
So I’ll share the responsibility: as people we meet enjoy the fruit the Holy Spirit bears in you and me they will get a taste of what it is like to be in the company of Jesus and want to know him, to know him better.
Each of us must crucify the flesh with its passions and desires. In so doing we yield to the active grace and power of the Spirit of Christ who is in and with us.
Since we live by the Spirit we keep in step with the Spirit.
Impatience arises from self-centredness, from selfishness, from our own ego.
- Why are they holding me up?
- Can’t they do the job properly?
- Why do they repeat the same story over and over?
- Who’s idea was it to come here anyway?
- Why are they wasting my time like this?
- Why is this happening to me?
It isn’t easy to crucify the flesh and live by the Spirit. Our natural passions and desires are so – natural!
We can’t help feeling that we are the best ones to decide things for ourselves.
We can even be tempted to pick and choose the fruit to bear – what if you don’t like being patient – how about specializing on faithfulness, say?
If you are to bear the fruit called patience you will also need the fruit called love, peace, kindness, gentleness.
Most of all you need a lot of self-control.
Then there are other characteristics you will need, such as humility, generosity, forgiveness, perseverance, experience, maturity, teachability.
The biggest temptation to impatience: boredom.
The best exercise to develop patience
How well do you cope with a sermon that goes on for too long? Or is so uninteresting it’s just plain boring? Or people who waste your time?
How patient are you with Bible reading? Or with prayer?
Satan doesn’t want us to read the Bible, to pray, to spend time improving our relationship with God. He distracts us and tries to convince us it is boring. So it’s hard to keep up and requires patience. Such spiritual disciplines as meditation, study, and prayer also doubles as behavior therapy.
However, if you are seeking exercises of practical value, consider building patience through activities such as prayer, study and Bible reading. As you study and meditate on Scripture, you store valuable knowledge, you arm yourself with the weapons with which you can “crucify the flesh with its passions and desires”. You open yourself to “live by the Spirit and keep in step with the Spirit” and therefore bear the fruit of the Spirit.
Prayer can be boring but is essential, integral for our life in the Spirit, especially as we learn to pray in the Spirit.
The result of these exercises is we bear more of the fruit of the Spirit, including (of course) patience. This patience we can use to overcome boredom in Bible reading and prayer which further develops the fruit of patience which makes our Bible reading and prayer more fruitful … and so the cycle goes on
May God bless us with fruitful, patient lives in the Holy Spirit