Love – Part 4
Ephesians 4:2 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
How often we have heard our parents or our colleagues say: “Patience is a great virtue.” Yet, if we look at our lives we see that no matter how great a virtue patience might be it isn’t something that we have in great abundance. We know that in the love that God manufactures, patience is a powerful ingredient. We read in 1 Corinthians 13:4 that “love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” When we think of love in terms of personal relationships then we must give time to patience.
Patience in the sense of dealing with inter-personal relationships brings out the idea of ‘longsuffering’ or to be ‘long tempered.’ How true it is that when it comes to relationships we really need to be longsuffering and long tempered. How often people have made us mad and we have wanted to strike back either by word or deed or both. When long-suffering and long tempered come in this maintains the relationship. It doesn’t mean that we do not deal with the issues at stake, but because of the practice of long-suffering and long-tempered (or simply being patient) we can deal with the issues without breaking the relationship.
Patience in relationships is seeing people from God’s point of view and recognizing the fact that God is not done with us yet. We are all in constant change and God is working in us. Romans 8:29 “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
Patience then is giving God time to finish what He has started in each one of us.
Psalms 138:8 “The LORD will fulfill [his purpose] for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever – do not abandon the works of your hands.”
It would seem that closely tied in with patience is another virtue called forgiveness.
Matthew 18:26 “The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.'” We all know the Lord’s parable here of where this man owed the king an astronomical amount of money and asked for patience in paying it back. It was granted, but then this man went out and found someone who owed him a pittance and patience was not what he granted him when asked for. Matthew 18:29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'” Whenever we have a tendency to lose patience with people it would do us well to stop and think about the patience that the Lord has had, and still does have with us. Another thought that comes out with patience is connected with the Lord’s blessings. Hebrews 6:15 “And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.”
The problem that we have in our Western society is the clash between traditional values and evolving values. Traditional values like loyalty, morality, accountability and sacrifice are clashing with evolving values like independence, personal happiness, tolerance, comfort, instant gratification, the right to make one’s own choices, all of which center around the individual. It is because of these evolving values that center around the individual that we find relationships (marriage, business partnerships, colleagues, etc.) in jeopardy and failing. Probably one of the great tragedies today is the desire for instant gratification even in our relationships. This is where patience comes in.
How do we get patience? Patience grows only in trials. When the trials come our way let us see what the Lord is doing and allow the Lord to work in us the patience of Christ Himself. Amen!