God’s patience is meant to work patience in us. He wants us like Himself. We say, “I’ve waited long enough. I’ve come to the end of my rope.” God’s rope is a lot longer, and He never comes to the end of it. Our instant oatmeal and fast internet age is not known for its ability to wait.
Does anyone reading this go from a 2 to 7 more often than you want? If we are called to represent God to a godless culture, they need to be slow to anger. When God saw His Son, He said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” He was like His Father. He wants us to be the same, so He gives us His Holy Spirit: “The fruit of the Spirit is…patience.” We don’t become patient by grit but by the Holy Spirit.
Abraham was called to a new place and a new destiny when he was seventy-five. His name Abram means “exalted father.” Only problem–no children, and Sarah was no spring chicken. God repeated His promise, finally changing Abram’s name to Abraham, “father of multitudes,” making it embarrassing every time this fatherless father got called to dinner. But “he hoped against hope,” and God came through. “And thus Abraham, having patiently endured, obtained the promise” (Heb. 6:15)–after a quarter of a century. Way to wait, Abe!
“Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy” (James 5:10,11). Way to be patient, Job!
Patience needs to be the quality of leaders (2 Cor. 6:6), of preachers (Titus 2:2), of every Christian (Gal. 5:22), because it is the outstanding character of love (I Cor 13:4), and love never fails, so neither does patience. The fact that patience is a fruit of the Spirit does not mean that He will magically zap us with it. The Holy Spirit works Jesus in us as we behold a wonderfully patient God and thus become like Him. We become what we behold.
We receive God’s life and become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). We are called to exhibit the qualities of God, including long-suffering. What would happen if we did? Fewer broken relationships, fewer divorces, greater peace in the family and church, deeper love shown. The first descriptive action of love in the great love chapter–it suffers long. Patience means we don’t have a short fuse. Doesn’t mean that we don’t have anger–we can simply put it off until needed. Patience is not the absence of anger. It is not simply a passive response. It is active and willful, calling us to suffer if need be for others.We feel the tension between justice and mercy. Long-suffering is hard because in some situations we believe that justice needs to be served rather than mercy. Something appears not to be fair. “He should know better. I am being the mature person.” And God is at work in us through suffering stretched out. Let it happen! (One more–be patient!)