Patient: bearing provocation, annoyance, misfortune, delay, hardship, pain, etc., with fortitude and calm and without complaint, anger, or the like.
Love is patient… (1 Corinthians 13:4a, NIV)
Before we start Building Up Love through understanding of patience, take an honest assessment of your life, your actions. Do you consider yourself a patient person? How have you determined your answer? Think of recent interactions. Did you show patience to your children and/or spouse when you came home from work tired? Did you show patience when you were frustrated during quarantines this past year? How about when you were waiting in long lines? How do you interact with your co-workers? Are you patient with new employees who are still learning? Do you show love through patience? Does your love, your life for Christ show through in your actions, in your patience? Are you a patience person? After taking this honest assessment of yourself, take some time to pray, asking the Lord to reveal and open your heart to what you are about to read and to grant you patience in your own life.
Love is patient. The Apostle Peter understood this and it was a lesson he struggled to learn. In our journey last year, 20/20 Vision for Christ, we saw that Peter would often act or speak first and think later. Peter jumped out of the boat to walk on water to approach Jesus, only to be swallowed by the water when he realized what he was doing (Matthew 14:22-33)! Peter cut the ear of an approaching man who was going to arrest Jesus (John 18:10). Peter, after the ascension of Jesus, was unable to wait patiently for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Instead, he acted, casting lots to replace Judas, who had betrayed Jesus (Acts 1), instead of waiting for the man whom the Lord would choose. Peter was not a patient man. Because of his own character, Peter was able to recognize, and be thankful, that God is patient!
9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9, NIV)
God is patient. God has promised to return, yet His return is slow at coming. His patience allows more time for all mankind to recognize God as their ultimate Savior, saving them from the eternal torment of being separated from Him forever.
Peter knows that God is patient because Peter knows the history of the Israelites. God wanted to give the Promised Land to the Israelites, but when they doubted Him, God patiently waited for a generation that would trust fully in Him to deliver them into the Promised Land.
The nation of Israel was repeatedly blessed by the Lord, only to fall away from the Lord, leading to bad times. Israel would be sent a prophet to warn them of coming judgement unless they mended their ways. Israel would return to the Lord and they would again be blessed, starting the journey again. God was patient with the Israelites, giving them many chances to return to their worship of Him.
In 1 Samuel 13, we see what can happen when we are impatient. Before going into battle, the Israelites would first seek out God, offering up to Him a sacrificial offering and worshipping Him. King Saul had assembled the army to go against the Philistines at Gilgal. The prophet Samuel told King Saul to wait a week a for him to come and make the offering to the Lord. Saul waited for one week and when Samuel had not arrived, King Saul decided to make the offering himself. Immediately after making the offering, Samuel arrived. King Saul was neither a priest, nor a Levite, therefore he had not legal standing before the Lord to offer up a burnt sacrifice. King Saul was impatient.
As a direct result of his impatience, King Saul lost his crown and forever damaged his relationship with the Lord. Impatience is similar to another word – impulse. Being impatient can lead to impulse decisions, which are made without thorough thought, consideration, and without pausing to seek guidance from the Lord. Patience teaches us to depend on God, and His timing, and not on ourselves. When we are impatient and refuse, as King Saul did, to wait upon God’s timing, and instead take things into our own hands, we reject the Lord, His help, and His plan.
Patience comes in many forms. Sometimes patience is waiting a day. Sometimes patience is waiting a week. Sometimes patience requires a lifetime.
Love is patient.
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