“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)
Patience. I want it NOW, or maybe in the next few breaths, before my face turns a shade of red that would cause a paramedic to shudder upon approach. My husband and I, together have begun to work through the devotional book, “Praying the Attributes of God”, by Ann Spangler, and I mean ‘WORK’ through it. One does not merely ‘read’ when you open your heart and mind to transformation. We just finished the week-long journey of patience, looking at God’s patience with us. OH MY GOODNESS! “The Lord, the Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.” – God, Exodus 34:6
In short, God does not grow frustrated with us like we do with others, things circumstances or … ourselves. Taking all the geeky (good stuff) and putting it in a nutshell, patience can be translated ‘long-souled’ indicating ‘to be long of feeling, delay one’s anger.’ (YES GOD! Be long-souled with ME!) Quoting, Ann, “God is calling us to be long or large in spirit, willing to exercise faith WHILE we wait for Him to act.” (emphasis mine) Act God!
I have studied patience extensively, but implementing it consistently is a whole other realm, like that of a Sci Fi novel. It takes twists and turns, facing new beasts demanding strong use of weaponry, (can you ‘see’ it?) In the devotional, at the end of the focus on patience, we were asked a few questions, one of which was: “On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, how would YOU rate your ability to be patient? What would you do to improve your score?” THIS, invoked great discussion for Mark and I, (love that man!) The first thing that came to mind for me was, ‘Tangled Hangers’, NOTHING makes me more frustrated then tangled hangers, at times I am sure I may lose my salvation over the anger that quickly rises within me, when I reach for one, ONE thing, they tangle and others come tumbling out and fall to the floor. ALAS, my score ‘might’ hit a 1 1/2 at that point. This imagery has been with me this pass week or so, asking how can I ‘get out of the frustrated arena, easily reach and not get tangled?’ Isn’t it true of our lives at times, we are SO busy, our mind so full, that when we ‘reach’ for one thing, the thing needed or wanted, it all comes tumbling down. To answer the question, “How can I increase my score?” CLEAN OUT THE CLOSET! (I know, DUH!) The same is with our lives, clean out, get rid of, grow pass all the ‘stuff’, so when we (or God) reaches for something, it is ‘well with our soul.’ We don’t fall to pieces, it is easier, accessible and we get to keep our salvation (just kidding).
“Thank you God for being so very patient with us, willing to allow us to grow and learn. Move – ACT in and through us, we invite YOUR attribute, we welcome YOU, may Your Spirit help us, with … us. May we this week, sense Your whisper as we reach, granting us the strength and wisdom to clean out the ‘stuff’, make life easier and not so cluttered, reducing our frustration. In Your most powerful and loving name, Jesus. Amen”
Tangled hangers – no problem. God.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)