Believe 26 — Patience
May 17, 2015
Friday is my day to finish writing my sermon. I often go out for coffee and a bagel, put on headphones and start writing. This past Friday, I went to see a member of the church who was in the hospital near Castleton Mall. No, I didn’t shop. But I went to one of my old favorite places to write my sermon. We used to go to Einstein Bros. when we lived in Michigan. It’s like Panera.
I ordered my bagel, got my cup for coffee. Walked over to the coffee pot and the dark roast was empty. UGH!! I happily told the staff it was out of coffee. I wanted to start my day with a good dark, strong cup of coffee. After a few minutes, the coffee still was not ready. After 10 minutes, no coffee. I didn’t want to eat my bagel without my coffee. After 15 minutes I reminded them there was no dark roast coffee. Finally, they got the coffee out. Now, I could write. Then, their wi-fi went out. So, I couldn’t check email, I couldn’t check ESPN, or dawdle. Thanks God! He has a real sense of humor.
Through it all, my patience was teetering more on the impatient side than the patient side.
WHY? Why is it that we become so impatient, so quickly. For you parents, who were up here this morning dedicating your children . . . how quickly does a great day turn ugly? Is it because we’ve lost our patience with our kids?
I tend to think patience has more to do with us, than with others. Nobody can control my patience thermometer. Only I can control it. I control my anger and my patience. Nobody else can. We usually lose our patience because we feel we’ve been inconvenienced.
There was a man whose car stalled in heavy traffic just as the light turned green. No matter what he did, the car wouldn’t start. You know what happened, he was frantically trying to start the car and a hundred other cars behind him were laying on their horns. In the end, through the entire green light the car wouldn’t start. The people behind continued to lay on their horns. Finally, he got out of his car and walked back to the driver right behind him who could obviously see and hear the man trying to start the car. He politely said to the man, “I’m sorry, but I can’t seem to get my car started. Would you mind trying to start my car and I’ll sit in your car and honk at you.”
We are not a patient people.
The annual cost of people running red lights in the United States is. . . $7 Billion!
The average amount of time saved by running a red light . . . 50 seconds.
How many times have you rolled through a stop sign? How much time did you really save?
We’re always trying to figure out how to cram more and more things that need to be done into less and less time. We allow less and less time for things, so we rush and we’re frazzled and we become more and more impatient.
The time crunch is felt by nearly everyone. And those who aren’t worried about time and move at a slower pace, drive us crazy. Especially those with A type personalities. UGH! There’s even a church in Florida that advertises a 22 minute worship. That’s right. They promise that 22 minutes after the service begins you will be on your way out. The music is fast. . . The prayers are quick. . . The sermons are only 8 minutes long. Don’t get your hopes up, not happening here!
Traffic. Deadlines. Annoying people. Standing in line. Being put on hold. Watching a file download. Being told a check is in the mail. Frustrating people. Long boring meetings. Inept information. Incompetent people. Patience is needed.
While the apostle Paul was in prison, he wrote this to the people of Ephesus ~
1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,
I want to stop after this verse, because Paul is laying the ground work for us . . . Paul’s reminding us, he’s writing this while in prison for Christ. We need to understand what Paul is asking us to do, the way he is asking us to live our lives, is the way he is living his life, even while in prison.
He’s encouraging us to live in such a way that we will bring honor and glory to Christ. We are to be living examples of who Christ is within us. So, how should we live our lives? Paul goes on to tell us . . . we need to live our lives ~~
2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,
3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3
The word patience is a compound word. It comes from 2 words and literally means “long burning passion or long – tempered.” What does that mean? It’s the word we see in the KJV – called longsuffering. It kind of means we suffer long, but in reality it means we have self restraint when we become angry. We are to wait for a sufficient amount of time before expressing anger. This avoids the quick loss of patience and improper anger.
We are to take a long time to burn up – to reaching our boiling point. Think about how quickly or how long it takes you to lose your patience. How long it takes you to burn up with anger; how long it takes for your temperature to rise?
So, the goal is to learn to slow down in letting circumstances heat you up. You know what it’s like when we see someone snap. We think I’ll never do that, then we find ourselves in the same situation and reacting like those we said we’d never imitate.
In Colossians 3, Paul tells us something similar ~
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
13 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.
14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. — Colossians 3
You see, the image is that we will put on all of these virtues. Every morning when you get dressed and ready for your day, you put on compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. That’s a pretty good way to get dressed. Write that on your mirror, then when you look at yourself in the morning, remind yourself to put these virtues on. Keep them on your desk at work.
Then you add to that the ability to bear with one another; and the gift of forgiving others. Now, on top of all these virtues, Paul tells us to put on love. And that love will bind all of these virtues into one.
All of this is predicated on love, and it’s on that sacrificial agape love God has poured into us through the Holy Spirit. But, so much of what we do during the day, so much of what happens to us and our reactions . . . are caused by our patience or lack of patience.
And our patience is demonstrated very visibly to the world. The world sees the way we love or do not love. The world notices when a Christian has a lack of patience for others. We go to church, like today, then if your service is not very good at the restaurant you go to, will you be forgiving, kind, patient, bearing with the server, being slow to become angry . . . or will you go to the manager and complain and make a case out of your inconvenience?
Of course, everyone will see your spirit, and they will experience Christ in you or the lack of Christ in you. They’ll see you angry, then bow your head to pray! And they’re thinking, wow, that’s why I don’t go to church. I don’t want to be like those people. Don’t think it doesn’t happen!
When we consider God. We have to be struck by His grace. God is patient with us. The Psalmist tells us, 15 O Lord, you are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. (Psalm 86:15)
What a great gift we receive from God. Can you imagine if God had no patience? Oh, man, we’d be in big trouble. You see, too many people live with the idea that when they do something wrong, God will get them for it. They think of God as the police officer waiting and hiding at a speed trap, wanting to catch them speeding and give them a ticket.
We can also say – – – God is a God of justice. The price for sin has to be paid in full. But because God loves us, Jesus paid the price for our sins on the cross. He paid the fine for us so we could be set free to live for Him.
Because God is patient with us, He wants us to be patient with others. But we don’t want to do that. We want to place limits on patience and forgiveness.
When we’re struggling with others . . . when we see the glaring sinfulness of others, can we step back and see their situation. Can we see what life has been like for them? Can we see why they are the way they are? It doesn’t make their behavior appropriate. It simply helps us to have more compassion and let the love of Christ flow a little more.
One scripture I use with all couples I do premarital counseling with comes from James 1:19 ~ James tells us ~
19 Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger;
What a great passage for us! Be quick to listen. That means turn off your desire to respond to the other person. Just listen. That takes patience. As you’re listening, you’re slow to speak . . . WHY? Because you’re listening. You’re not looking for a comeback, you’re intent on understanding . . . and that takes patience!!
Now, since you’re actively listening, you’re also not jumping to conclusions. Why? Because you are better understanding the other person. As a result, you will be slower to become angry because you understand the situation. And when you’ve understood the other person, and you haven’t become quickly angered, you’ve shown wonderful patience and that speaks for who Christ is within you. Because it often takes Christ in us, to help us not jump to conclusions!
Patience is a Christian virtue, the product of the Holy Spirit working in our lives.
As we wrap up this morning. The greatest verse people want read at their weddings is 1 Corinthians 13. Paul tells us
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
What a great passage, not just for married life . . . but for all of life. Paul starts with the reminder that love is patient. Patience is an act of love. We can learn to be patient when we trust in the power and strength and encouragement which comes from God. On our own, it will be tough to be patient. But with Christ all things are possible.