In Charles Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip, Charlie Brown asks Linus “What would you do if you felt that nobody liked you?”
Linus responds “Well, Charlie Brown, I guess I would take a real hard look at myself, ask if I am doing anything that turns people off, How can I improve myself? Do I need to change in some way? Yep. that’s my answer Charlie Brown.”
In the final frame Charlie Brown says, “I hate that answer.”
Charlie Brown’s problem, and ours, is often an issue of patience. Linus’ answer requires serious thought, time, effort and energy. In our relationships it takes patience to see things through the lens of others. It is the ability to suppress annoyance, be composed during trial, and calm while enduring provocation.
In addition to love, joy and peace, patience is the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:23). The character of the new man, one who is clothed in Christ, includes 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).
The Greek word for patience is defined as “forbearance, slowness in avenging wrongs.” The word is translated longsuffering. It literally means “long tempered.” It has to do with fortitude. Endurance. And restraint.
Patience is difficult because it goes against our human nature. 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?”
Patience 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.
However, God calls us to patience. Here are 5 suggestions to help us grow more patient.
(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) Grow 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).
Finally the Bible says we can learn a lesson about patience from Farmers.
“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. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” (James 5:7-8)
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman