“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). A soft answer can take a 7 down to a 2 real fast. A reaction turns it to a 9. Quiet answers are gifts. Doesn’t happen automatically. Usually comes after some failures. In our brokenness we cry out for change–and God answers.
The patience of God must translate to human encounters or it is withdrawn (Matt. 18:23-35). Paul encourages us to be “patient with everyone” (I Thess 5:14). “Everyone” includes jerks and irritants. Not an easy assignment. Paul exercised patience and called all ministers to the same (2 Cor. 6:6), not with grim face but with joy (Col. 1:11). It is offered us by Christ as our new attire. We can shed the old clothes of complaining and put on the jacket of love and patience.
We praise God for his long-suffering with us (I Tim. 1:17), and it makes us patient with others–little by little. If God told us what He had to put up with in us, we might get it together quicker. A word that is sometimes translated “patience” is “hupomone”–endurance. “Tribulation (suffering) works patience” (endurance: Rom. 5:3). “Let us run with endurance the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1).
Proverbs helps us with patience: “He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly” (14:29). “Good sense makes a man slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense” (19:11). “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses” (10:12). “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (16:39). “He who restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding” (17:27). “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man quietly holds it back” (29:11).
Faith sees the promise and patience waits for its fulfillment (Hebrews 6:l2). Patience is often seen as a negative word, that we don’t do something that we might be inclined to, like hitting a child or yelling at a spouse. Patience has a positive quality of waiting upon God with active faith and quiet suffering. It is a word blazing with hope. When a mother prays for patience, she is sometimes asking that the kids don’t bug her so much. If she gets what she prays for, it will be more than a quieter day.
Are you ready to pray? “Dear Father, No one is patient like you. I marvel at the extent of your patience with a lost and broken world–and with me. I am thankful that you hold your anger and do not explode. I want you to develop patience in my heart, so I can show it to those I live and work with. Through Your Son Jesus Christ, Amen!”
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AND APPLICATION
What situations make you most impatient? Would you say that you are growing in patience? If so, how? How could you speed up the sanctifying process? Who is a good example of patience for you to follow? How important is the quality of patience to you? To God?