Amongst the many wonderful qualities of love, the apostle Paul tells us that; “Love is patient” (1 Corinthians 13:4). Here we see that patience grows out of love, it’s the product of love, and it’s the unavoidable and irresistible child of love.
Most of us can recognise impatience at work within the character of another person. They want what they want, and they want it now! Not so the child of God. That’s because patience trusts in God’s compassionate sovereignty rather than getting flustered with its inability to control life. Why, because patience expresses the character of the indwelling Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness etc.” (Galatians 5:22-23). It is He who enables us to “be patient in tribulation” (Romans 12:12) as we persevere in trusting prayer and obedient behaviour.
God’s Word tells the full story
When reading the Bible, it’s not long before you see the Lord’s patience when dealing with belligerent humanity. We see God’s evangelistic heart evidenced as the apostle Peter explains; “God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared” (1 Peter 3:20). For 120 years Noah persevered as a preacher of righteousness on God’s behalf, while building the ark. Yet only eight people believed Noah’s warning and entered the ark’s safety. Meanwhile, the rest of humanity chose independence from God to their peril.
Patience is also evangelistic by nature because it’s focused on the spiritual wellbeing of its recipients and not simply on self-gratification. We read of this quality once again from Peter; “And count the patience of our Lord as salvation” (2 Peter 3:15). We’re grateful that due to the Lord’s patience “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities” (Psalms 103:10 NIV). Evangelistic patience delays judgement, creating the opportunity for repentance. It also gives us believers more opportunities to persuade unbelievers to turn to Christ for salvation (2Co 5:11). In this evangelistic patience, we Christians praise God for His long suffering mercy!
We see this quality in the apostle Paul’s life, when he writes to exhort younger Timothy. He explained that he “was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:16 NIV).
Patience invites today
My friend, do not take the Lord’s patience for granted. Just because you lived today basking in the Lord’s gracious patience, is no guarantee for tomorrow. The timeless cautionary of Hebrews 3:8; “do not harden your hearts” still applies today. With our propensity for standing critically apart from the Lord, in spite of His patience toward us, we should surrender to His loving kindness without delay.
As was proven in my life today, that common enemy of God and man; Satan, will employ all means possible to dissuade you from implementing any degree of faith and obedience in Christ. Surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ never comes easy, and will always be met with resistance. However, as Paul prayed; “that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:10-11).
I encourage you today; “admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).
Together for Christ: Lincoln Forlong www.bbf.net.nz