God is Patient With Us

1 Corinthians 13:4 tells us that “love is patient.” If “God is love” (1 Jn. 4:7,8), and “love is patient,” then we should see God as being a patient God. Indeed, scripture else where upholds this truth. We see God’s patience demonstrated in the tolerance of sin for the sake of His people whom He loves. Consider first God’s love in the days of Noah “when the patienceof God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water” (1 Pet. 3:20). When we consider the days before the flood, we should consider how God patiently endured the wicked by withholding the flood waters long enough for Noah to built the ark that God would use to preserve Him from His wrath. God’s patience is first demonstrated in the fact that He endures the wicked out of His love for His people. “What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory” (Rom. 9:22-23).

God’s loving patience is not limited to the His withholding judgment on those who are not His own, but also is demonstrated in His tolerance of the sins of those who would be His people. If you do not see God as tolerant I suggest you stop and ask yourself why God has not struck you dead because of your sin. And “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 Jn. 1:8). Clearly God tolerates sin does not mean that we should continue in sin, but is intended to lead us into repentance. “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4).  “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).

God expects us to see His patience as an opportunity to repent of sins in our lives and pursue righteousness. “And regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you.” And who else but Paul was most qualified to speak of the patience of God, as He had be a zealous persecutor of the church and by the grace had become an equally zealous lover of the church. As Paul himself tells us, “Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patienceas an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life” (1 Tim. 1:16). God’s patience is meant to lead us to repentance, so whether you are an unbeliever in need of repentance for the first time, or a Christian who continues to wage war with sin, look at God’s patience as an opportunity to change your ways and run to Him.

 Are We Patient With Him?

Some may protest at this point that we have no need to be patient with God, because God never does anything wrong. However, I would disagree after all we are to love God (Mt. 22:37) and “love is patient,” so their must be some aspect in which a love toward God expresses itself is patience. I would like to propose to specific ways in which we demonstrate patience with God: in enduring hardship and in awaiting His return.

Let us first consider patience with God in hardships. For everyone who has every endured a hardship or trial, I am sure they have reached a point when they wished it would end. They longed for better days. Yet as believers our attitude in trials should be that of the Psalmist who wrote, “I waited patiently for the LORD” (Ps. 40:1) or “Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes” (Ps. 37:7). Someone who is willing to be patient with the Lord, to wait on Him, will have an attitude much like Job who could say, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21). They do not demand that God removed the trial that He has set in their path, but they wait patiently for Him to bring them through it.

Yet the redeem patiently await more than the removal of the temporal trial; they await the return return of the Lord or their departure to be with Him. As apostle Paul tells us, “And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23). However, this eager expectation cannot be a demanding of Christ’s return, for elsewhere we read, Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near” (Jam. 5:7-8). The author of Hebrews sets Abraham as an example of one “who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Heb. 6:12). And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise” (Heb 6:15). And we are to imitators of that faith and patience…that love.

Are We Patient With Others?

If we have come to know the love of God and have come to love Him, it will only follow that we will love others. As we begin to appreciate the patience of God and grow in our willingness to wait patiently on Him, we will begin to show patience to others as well. The expectation for us to be patient with others is seen specifically in our dealings with others short comings. This is evident from Paul’s (the example of His perfect patience) instructions to the Ephesian church:

 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph. 4:1-3)

Does this mean that we should just let sin go and never address it? May it never be! Remember the patience and tolerance and kindness of God are meant to lead us and others to repentance (Rom 2:4, 2 Pe. 3:9). So to we are to be patient with others in the process of trying to lead them to repentance. Paul told the church in Thessalonica, “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patientwith everyone” (1 Thes. 5:14). Paul  understood how hard it was to move people to repentance (something ultimately only God can do) for he instructs the pastor Timothy to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patienceand instruction” (2 Tim. 4:2). For those who have been Christian’s very long I’m sure they can relate to the difficulties the Thessalonians were having. You tell the rebellious and unruly person in your church to stop and it seems like it falls on deaf ears. You talk to another who is unable to bear their burden, and you tell them that God’s grace is sufficient for their weakness, only to see them continuing to try and carry their burden on their own.

Most people can appreciate the need to be patient with those they are admonishing, encouraging, or helping. As a teacher I can definitely understand the need for patience in trying to teach others, especially math since most of them have not desire to learn it. But how many of us think of our need for patience when someone else is instructing us. When was the last time you patiently endure someone else instructing you. Paul begged King Agrippa, “I beseech thee to hear me patiently” (Acts 26:3). It seems that Paul understood that when we are being told something that we do not want to hear, we need patience to actually hear the person out.

Are patient with those you “love”? If you are not patient and you really love them, then ask God to change your attitude and your actions so that you will be more patient with them? If, however, you are not patient and you have no desire to change, then you need to face the fact that you do not really love them, because “love is patient.”