After our brief excursion into Love Land last week in preparation for Valentine’s day, we continue our discipleship training in the area of “overcoming evil with good.” (aka Jesus Judo). So far, we have studied four of the seven virtues and deadly sins recognized by the Church for over a millennium and a half. We have considered Chastity & Lust, Temperance & Gluttony, Charity & Greed, and Diligence & Sloth. Today is all about Patience and Wrath.
PATIENCE IS WORTH IT
If you have been one of the unfortunate many that have had to take a trip to the doctor this cold and flu season, you have probably had the opportunity to grow in patience. Long waits, grouchy health-care workers, insurance challenges, prescription lines are just a few of the things you may have faced. Add several of those factors with the general miserableness of sickness, and it’s enough to put just about anyone’s patience to the test.
While we often joke about not praying for patience, we should. The bible says,
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
At first glance, the passage does not sound in the least appealing, but take a close look at the outcome: “that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” WOW! Now that sounds like something worth waiting for. It is not easy and it is not cheap, but it is priceless!
PATIENCE IS COUNTER-CULTURAL & COUNTER INTUITIVE
Contrary to what the bible has to say, patience is apparently no longer highly valued by our society. Delayed gratification sometimes seems a thing of the past in an age where people go to extreme measures just so they will not have to wait a few weeks for a new phone. Most are more-than-willing to pay several times the value of a car, house, electronics, etc. in interest payments rather than saving for what they need.
Perhaps the real question is, where is our faith really rooted if we always look to finance companies to give us what we want instead of praying and trusting God. Could it be even worse? Is it possible that we are afraid to pray because the answer may be no – especially when “less deserving” people already have the very thing we want? Paul clearly tells us we should look to God for our answers.
Do not be lazy but work hard, serving the Lord with all your heart. Be joyful because you have hope. Be patient when trouble comes, and pray at all times.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
IMPATIENCE IS A FORM OF ANGER
Although we often don’t think of it this way, impatience is actually a form of anger. Think about it. When we don’t get what we want, when we want it; When we have waited longer than expected; When the person on the other end of the transaction is moving like a sloth from the Zootopia movie; When the waiter appears to be slacking off or taking care of everyone except us; we become increasingly impatient. If we are honest, we must often admit that we want some kind of compensation or “justice”. Perhaps we want a free meal, or even hope the object of our impatience gets fired. (Maybe we want that guy passing us on the shoulder to get a ticket.) Whether we want to admit it or not, this is anger pure and simple. That is why Patience and Wrath are opposites on the virtues/sins list.
Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper— it only leads to harm. For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the LORD will possess the land.
PATIENCE IS A SIGN OF HUMILITY AND LOVE
Sometimes it takes everything we have in us to be patient. Perhaps we are having a bad day, didn’t have enough coffee, or the devil is messing with us every way conceivable. Even with all of that, we must think through our emotions. We must be self-aware enough to know when we are vulnerable and make the necessary adjustments. (Even if that means being alone with God for a while). We should remember that God tells us to regard others as more important than ourselves. We should also remember that at the end of the day, our relationships are far more essential than our fleeting thoughts and feelings.
Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.
Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride.
While these thoughts are certainly not an exhaustive look at all the Bible has to say about Patience and Wrath, I am hopeful that they provide a reasonable foundation and starting point for us to allow patience to do its great work in our lives. I can’t help but keep thinking about its power to make us perfect, complete and in lack of nothing. May God grant us all such and wonderful and priceless blessing as we learn to lean on Him and become the patient people He desires us to be. He is patiently waiting.
Selah! (think on these things)