A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.
The world we live in is often impatient, quick to point out even minor faults and failures, let alone offenses. Believers in Christ, however, are not to act like this. God calls us to a life of patience with the faults and offenses of others.
Patience comes from God who is transforming our hearts and lives. It is based on the work of the Spirit in our lives. God’s own patience is well demonstrated in the Bible through His dealing with the rebellious nation of Israel over the course of centuries. Though they rebelled often and frequently, God patiently dealt with them, as He does with us. And we also know that many have been patient with us over the course of our lives, so certainly a child of God has reason to be patient with others, even total strangers. Demonstrating patience is one of the greatest ways we can give a public witness for Christ in this impatient world.
There are two sides to patience: a passive side and an active side. Endurance is the active aspects of patience and is the capacity to do the same thing for a long time, like the endurance of a long-distance runner: some English translations of the Bible use “longsuffering” to communicate this concept. We read in Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Like all the fruit of the Spirit, this active patience is the outworking of the love of God in our lives.
The passive side of patience is the capacity to wait upon the Lord, to resist the urge we may feel to take action unwisely. This, also, is the result of the work of God in our life. Whenever situations crowd in upon a Christian, he only needs to look up to find peace. Sometimes God leads us to take action quickly, but we never need to act out of panic. God has not abandoned us. Paul eloquently described this aspect of patience in his words inspired of the Spirit in 2 Corinthians 4:7-18.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
When the world crowds in upon you, when you feel worn out from the demands of others, trust in the power of God who will enable you to endure. Find your strength in Him.
When the panic of an unbelieving world seems to pressure you to act, remember that you have a Heavenly Father to watch over you. Goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life.
You might touch someone for God with your patience that you can reach in no other way.
Lord, help us find our foundation in You and Your words. Work patience into our souls. We thank You for the ways people are patient with us, let us from Your strength be patient with people and with circumstances, acting out what You are seeking to put into our souls. Amen.