“Patience is a virtue” they say. I’m not quite sure who they are, but as I join the applause and celebrate this God-quality, I am also very aware however, the closest we often get is “Hurry up and WAIT!” while possibly running a few folks over in the process.
In the New Testament there are two main kinds of patience mentioned, with a third quality attached. Paul states he had been praying that those in Colossae live a life worthy of God and please Him in every way “…bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father” Col. 1:10-12 (NIV, emphasis mine).
Endurance, (hupomone in the Greek) is patience in circumstances. The quality of steadfastness. Some would say – staying power. This staying power is motivated by HOPE. It is the characteristic of a man (or woman) who is not swerved from their deliberate purpose, sustaining through to the end – regardless. Keep, keeping on.
Among the Fruit of the Spirit, there is love, joy, peace… patience. The word Paul uses here, is not hupomone (though defiantly a quality of the Spirit). BUT Paul uses makrothumia which is unlike hupomone, patience in circumstances, inspired by hope. Makrothumia is patience with PEOPLE, inspired by MERCY. Relational.
Jesus teaches this through the parable in Matthew 18, (I paraphrase). The King has a servant who owed a large sum of money, when the debt was called, the servant fell on his knees before the King. “Be patient (Makrothumia) with me!” he begged. The King offered mercy, holding back punishment, releasing him. As soon as the servant went free, he found a friend that owed HIM money. He too called the debt. The friend begged the same, “Be patient with me…” But the servant refused mercy and put the friend in prison. The King heard of this, summoning the servant, stating, “I gave you mercy, shouldn’t you have given mercy as well.” What an amazing picture! The unmerciful servant. Patience is motivated by mercy. May we too “remember when…” When God has patience with us!
Paul continues this thread, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Makrothumia). Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Col. 3:12-13, again I emphasize, see also Eph 4:1-3) The “bearing” with one another, literally means “to put up with” – but not just that, it is holding back – to hold in. STOP! Good Godly interaction with others is not only about what we DO just as much as what we don’t – RESTRAINT. (May I just offer – “OUCH!”)
God’s mercy is withholding what we do deserve, where His grace is giving us what we do not. One hand pushes forward in giving, the other holds back in restraint. What divine coordination. God patiently bearing with us.
I am challenged to pray for patience, sounds a bit risky (in all honesty). Do I really want to point out, wave in the direction of patience? Yes (as I duck). Loving others can be messy, but perhaps kind patience could be the missing piece needed. While I am reminded of the patience and mercy and the most amazing grace God has for me.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)