Character Trait No. 40
Definition: Accepting a difficult situation with calm endurance without complaining or losing `self-control
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)
Patience is much more proactive than the definition given us by the ACE curriculum writers. Love is patient, and God is love, therefore God is the definition of patient. God, as a planner and builder, works out the intricate details of His plans with painstaking patience, allowing each factor to come to pass before moving on to the next phase of the plan. We can especially see this when reading the booklet, “Proof that the Bible is the Word of God”, by Jay Wilson. Brother Wilson explains The Plan in eight phases. They are as follows:
Phase 1 – Genesis 1:26 – Man is a spiritual being, with a spiritual need of being in fellowship with God.
- Genesis 2:16,17 – Adam and Eve lost their fellowship with God.
- - The Flood – Man left to himself becomes degenerate.
Phase 2 – Genesis 12:3 – In Abraham all families of the earth would be blessed.
Phase 3 – The Law foreshadowed the Christian covenant, containing:
1. Laws by which the people were to live.
2. Ordinances for sacrifice.
3. The establishment of the priesthood.
- The Law contained in itself the seeds of its own destruction
- Jeremiah 31:31-34 – Prophecy of the new covenant.
- Daniel 9:27 – Prophecy of the end of the old covenant sacrifice.
- Psalm 110:4 – Prophecy of the establishment of a new priesthood.
Phase 4 – The establishment of the kings
- II Samuel 7:16 – The promise of an eternal king, descended from David.
- Zechariah 6:12,13 – Union of the High Priest and the King.
Phase 6 – The establishment of the church – restoration of fellowship with God, lost since the days of Adam.
Phase 7 – Extension of salvation to the Gentiles – Hosea 1:10; Joel 2:32
This outline of the Plan certainly contains enough material to study for many hours. But even a cursory glance shows the incredible patience of God in carrying it out over thousands of years. Truly for the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. ( II Pet. 3:8) Only an eternal God who is fully confident of Himself could so patiently wait until the right moments before implementing each phase. Paul wrote: “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son....” (Gal.4:4) Not a minute sooner!
As an example of God’s continuing patience in pursuing His evangelism agenda, consider how He waited for Saul to be appointed as the Apostle to the Gentiles, whom He had decided to save since Abram’s time. (Gen. 12:3) After Pentecost, (when the gospel was preached to the Jews), He waited nearly 10 years before sending Peter to Caesarea to preach to Cornelius’ Roman household. Only then did the Gentiles finally receive the promised gift of the Holy Spirit, (the blessing of Abraham), by immersion into Christ. (Acts 10) And only after thusly setting the stage for the acceptance of the Gentiles into the church via the gospel was Paul called by Barnabas to help evangelize the Greeks at Antioch.
Paul, having previously seen a vision of Christ, and having repented and been immersed by Ananias years earlier, had long been waiting in obscurity at Troas. Barnabas had to make a diligent search before finding him in that city. Although the Lord had already decided and announced, on the road to Damascus, that Paul was to be His apostle (sent messenger/herald) to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15), He still patiently waited until the Gentiles were made ready for mass evangelism through the baptism with the Holy Spirit at Cornelius’ household with Peter and his Jewish friends as eyewitnesses reporting to his fellow leaders at Jerusalem, before finally unleashing Paul on the Gentile world. Even then, Paul still patiently went first to the stubborn Jews, despite the fact that doing so got him into great trouble every time. Why? Because this was God’s own plan – the Jew first, then the Gentile.
We’ve seen the great patience of God – not slowness, as some men would say – to bring about the salvation of mankind – including you and I. God doesn’t hurry things along, thereby ending up doing sloppy work. He waits until conditions … and people, are ready. So must we. For instance, parents need to be patient in allowing their children to grow up in a natural way as God intended. We must not force square pegs into round holes. This is true in so many other things. In starting a new business, for instance, one must not use up all the capital (initial funds for startup) in frivolous consumption. Rather, the money earned must usually be reinvested for many years until it is safe to milk the “money cow”(business) without killing the cow. Much time must be spent building the business up until it reaches the point where one can enjoy the fruits of his labor.
The same is also especially true in evangelism. We’re not to force people to the next phase of their spiritual growth before their time. They must come to conviction by forming their own conclusions based on clear scriptural evidence patiently presented to them in a coherent, organized manner, rather than relying on your own strong convictions that are untried and untested in their lives. Often this means letting them reinvent the wheel and “spin their own wheels” in some patently fruitless pursuit (at least in the short run) while you sit on the sidelines watching (patiently!) for them to figure out for themselves what you already knew years ago. Sometimes it means laboring for them in agonizing prayer while they wander off the straight and narrow way for a while. It’s not easy! Especially since we cannot always be assured of the outcome or the timing. Completely trusting in God’s sovereignty, as demonstrated in the Bible, is the only way to bear it.
We must become as patient as our heavenly Father. Here’s some practical ways to achieve this:
- First, believe that God has already given you a superabundance of patience when He gifted you with His Spirit at your immersion.
- Avoid negative statements, such as: “ I can’t stand certain things”. “He/She/You drive me crazy!”, “I’m just not a very patient person – it’s my German/Irish/Scottish blood.” Replace them with motivational self-talk such as: “ I can stand all things with Christ’s help.” “I am being made into a patient person by the help of the Holy Spirit.” And so on.
- Become a careful planner. Visualize each subsequent stage in the fulfillment of your plan. Avoid jumping from stage 1 to stage 4 and skipping necessary stages. Also see how each part will lead to the final attainment of your project, which should be rewarding.
- Tackle only as many projects as you are prayerfully confident of being able to handle – with God’s help, of course. Learn to say “no” sometimes when already overbooked.
- Learn to pace yourself when sick or very tired. You can be tired or sick or overworked, and yet still be patient by entrusting yourself and your work into God’s hand, then contently doing your best, trusting the Lord that those who labor in the Lord never labor in vain. (I Cor.15:58)
- Be positive about life, and see how much easier it is to be patient!
- Pray without ceasing, with thanksgiving! (Phil.4:4-6)
- Consider Christ, who endured such suffering on your behalf, when tempted to give up and burst out in anger or frustration.
You can do all things, glorifying Him by your patience! Read over and over again Hebrews 11 & 12; I Pet. 2:19-21 and James 5:10-11: “As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.”