Phillips Brooks was a great New England Preacher of the 19th century. He was known for his poise. Patience. And quiet manner. However, like all of us, the pressure of his work caused him to suffer from periods of frustration.
One day a friend saw the minister feverishly pacing the floor. Back and forth. Back and forth. Like a caged lion. Finally, he said, “What’s the trouble, Mr. Brooks?” His reply was classic.
“The trouble is that I’m in a hurry, but God isn’t!” How many of us can relate to that feeling?
Our word of the week, submitted by Kim from Lee’s Summit, is “patience.”
Paul wrote that the fruit is of the spirit is not only love, joy and peace, but patience (Gal. 5:23). In the letter to the Colossians the apostle spoke of the character of the new man, one who is clothed in Christ. His exhortation involved patience.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (Col 3:12-14, ESV)
Mr Thayer says patience is “forbearance, slowness in avenging wrongs.” The word is translated longsuffering. It literally means “long tempered.” It has to do with fortitude. Endurance. And restraint.
Various anonymous sources have defined patience in this way. “Patience is the ability to accept delay or disappointment graciously.” Patience is the powerful attribute that enables a man or a woman to remain steadfast under strain and continue pressing on.” “Patience is a calm endurance based on the certain knowledge that God is in control.”
Why is Patience so Difficult?
(1) It Goes Against Human Nature. We are born impatient. When a baby wakes up and is wet or hungry, it doesn’t think, I’ll wait until morning and not bother mom!
We’re kinda like the little 4-year-old boy who was traveling with his mother & constantly asking again and again” “When are we going to get there? Finally, the mother got so irritated that she said, “We still have 90 more miles to go. So don’t ask me again when we’re going to get there.” The boy was silent for a long time. Then he timidly asked, “Mom, will I still be four when we get there?”
(2) It is contrary to our culture. We live on the fast track. We live in a world of fast food. One hour printing. Express lunches. Microwaves. Instant internet communication. Like the kids’ commercial advertising the cell phone says, “fast is better.” I even heard of one church in Florida that advertizes 22 minute services!
(3) We have even elevated impatience to a virtue! We admire the type A business person. Hard charging people. Choleric personalities. You hear it said, “Well I may be impatient but I get things done.
However, God calls us to patience The wise man wrote “A patient man has great understanding, but a quick tempered man displays folly” (Prov. 14:9).
HOW DO WE DEVELOP PATIENCE?
(1) Abide in Christ (Jn. 15:5). He is the perfect example of patience. In his work. In dealing with difficult people. In training the apostles. In suffering. Being more Christ-like will produce greater patience.
(2) Growing in Love. The great love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13 says, “Love is patient.” The more we love, the greater we love, the deeper we love, the more patient we become. Got a problem being patient with people? Just love ‘em more!
(3) Prayer. In Colossians 1:9-11 Paul prayed for several things, including patience. Want patience? Pray! Just don’t be like the fellow who prayed, “Lord give me more patience….and right now!”
(4) Slow down. Take a break! Even God rested on the Sabbath from his work of creation! Jesus often took time out of his hectic schedule to go the Mountains, or the sea shore, and just get away from the crowds.
(5) Wait on the Lord. The Pslamist said, “Wait on the Lord, be of good courage and he shall strengthen your heart, wait, I say, on the Lord! ( Ps. 27:14).
Make “patience” more than the “word of the week! Or Ken’s Monday message. Make patience a lifestyle. And take to heart James’ exhortation.
“Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” (James 5:7-8)
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman