Patience is a topic I wanted to write about not because I have it all figured out, but because it is one I personally need to pursue, better understand and put into practice. Some people are wired to be a bit more patient than others, but I am not one of those people. My wife, Donna (my most loving and accurate critic), says that I have “selective patience”. Honestly, I think she is on to something!
Jerry Gillis gave our team at The Chapel some thoughts on patience in one of our staff meetings a year or two ago and I thought it would be good to share what I heard and how I am continuing to process through it in my life.
As A.W. Tozer writes in the beginning of The Knowledge of the Holy, “what comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us”. I have seen this statement hold true in my life as well as many others. So, if that statement is truthful and worth our attention, it should lead us to ask this question: is patience important to God?
Scripture has revealed that God is indeed a God of Patience and it is important to Him. Patience is not what God chooses, but who He is. It is an important component of how He acts. For example, in 2 Peter 3:9 we see that God is not slow in responding to His promises, but patient – for our benefit!
We also see patience in how we are to respond to others as a result of the example given us by God. Although there are many examples in scripture, the Apostle Paul encourages Timothy in a number of places in his instructional letters to do all that we are called to do with great patience (e.g. 1 Timothy 6:11, 2 Timothy 3:10 & 4:2). Again, for the benefit of others.
In short, I have referenced a few examples that indicate God’s desire for us to be patient with others – not solely for our benefit, but mainly for theirs.
So, what is patience? Here are a few things to consider…
Patience is not:
- Procrastination. Procrastination is careless and irresponsible. Patience is caring for others while showing grace.
- Incompetence. There are times that we don’t have all the information needed to respond, but that is not patience. Patience requires wisdom, knowledge and maturity to remain self-controlled.
- Inaction. Patience enables disciplined action; allowing circumstances to occur around us and giving us the ability to respond in a way that prefers others.
- Taking full responsibility of what we know with a willingness to give margin and latitude for God and others to work in the midst of a situation.
- Allowing us to lead people toward God’s best for them. As mentioned earlier in 2 Timothy 4:2, patience allows us to gently instruct and lead others toward Him.
- Always producing something in us – maturity. Patience matures us and allows others to mature along with us.
So, how do we do it?
I believe that scripture clearly teaches that Godly wisdom is the key to being patient.
Proverbs 14:29 says that patience leads to great understanding while a quick temper leads to great foolishness.
Proverbs 19:2 also communicates that hasty actions will cause us to miss things.
I believe that as we ask God for His wisdom to address situations in our lives, He will give us patience. I have written in the past on the importance of wisdom and understanding and wisdom in decision making. I encourage you to read those posts to discover more on how to tap into Godly wisdom.
Ultimately, if God has proven to be trustworthy, patience given by Him through seeking His wisdom will always produce the best result for us and others.
We are all selectively patient in some areas of our lives depending on whether we choose to pursue Godly wisdom or not. What option are you choosing?
Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city. (Proverbs 16:32)