Our mission here at Sunnyside is to
Helping people reach their full potential in Christ: physically, spiritually and emotionally.
To reach implies progress or spiritual growth – that He who began a good work in us is faithful, and He will complete the work – if we let Him – if we work in partnership with God. That’s where we find ourselves in the Believe series. We’re in the progress stage of Who We Become - what kind of people ought we be because of our relationship with Christ.
Key question: “How does God provide the help I need to deal with stress?”
Key idea: “I am slow to anger and endure patiently under the unavoidable pressures of life.”
So you see, we ought to be patient people. We ought to deal with life patiently. When I saw this chapter, I was like, “Oh no – not patience.” I think it’s common to have kind of a stigma toward patience. We know we’re supposed to be patient and we know we struggle with patience, but we don’t want to address the issues of patience. For example, ever heard someone say, “Don’t ask God for patience?” Kind of a negative attitude
So I found that same hesitancy in me when I began to study, and I thought surely God was going to pound on me for being impatient with others. But here’s what happened, rather than being reluctant to face my own impatience, I found myself desiring patience, and I’ll share why.
What I’m going to do is share what I discovered about patience.
As I just said, there’s this attitude that says, “Don’t ask God for patience.” Why? “He’ll teach you patience, alright - He’ll make your life miserable!” What’s wrong with that attitude or mindset? I understand some joking - but ultimately, it’s ungodly, and here’s why:
1) Patience is an attribute of God
The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
God is patient. Anyone here thankful for God’s patience? Patience is an attribute – it’s His character – who He is. And
God’s patience, like His other attributes, is never changing - it’s constant, perfect and reliable.
There is never a moment when God is not patient.
This is particularly important when reading about God’s wrath – especially in the OT. What may appear to be a sudden burst of God’s uncontrollable anger is in reality a response or action tempered by His love, His foreknowledge, His righteousness, His patience etc. etc.
So, if patience is an attribute of God, then how should that affect our attitude toward patience?
What does that mean for us?
2) Patience is a character issue
Patience is a virtue – a virtue is a high moral standard. But why is patience a virtue? Because it’s an attribute of God. Patience is not simply the ability to remain calm in any given circumstance - patience is a deeper issue of character. And
Character reflects who dominates my mind and heart (Rom. 8:5, Gal. 5:16-25, Eph. 5:1).
We were created in God’s image, or more accurately to be image-bearers. We were created to carry or reflect God’s image (His attributes) wherever we go. We are the aroma of Christ. We are to bear fruit - carry love, joy, peace, patience …. We are to pursue godliness and Christ-likeness? So, if God is patient, and I am to be like Him -
My character should reflect God’s character.
Again, this is about progress or maturing in Christ. Therefore, our attitude should not be, “Don’t ask for patience,” but rather, “I want to be patient because my Father is patient, and I want to reflect who Him.”
Now, if patience is a character issue, a reflection of heart and mind - then
a) Impatience is pretentious
I wrestled with this one – looking for a nicer way to put it, but every way I looked at it, impatience always came back to this pretentious, self-centered attitude. Reflecting on the one or two times I’ve been impatient in my life, I couldn’t find anything other than reason than self-centeredness or pretentiousness.
At the root of impatience is a person named, Me. When I’m impatient, it’s because things are not going the way or at the speed I want them to go. When I’m impatient, there is a sense of pretentiousness – that I’m like God - knowing everything about a particular person or a particular situation.
I’m not God. And neither are you. What right do we have to exert impatience? I’ll let you wrestle with that one.
3) Patience is a trust issue
God’s people are called to trust Him - to walk by faith. And trust often involves patience.
Patience creates space for God to fulfill His promises in His time, not ours.
When we become impatient with God, we do what? Mess things up.
The Bible is replete with stores of God’s people either waiting patiently or taking matters into their own hands - which usually doesn’t turn out too well.
Abraham (Abram) was 75 when God first promised that he would father a great nation. His son Isaac wasn’t born until Abraham was 100-years old, 25 years later. 25 years between the promise and the beginning of the fulfilment.
David was anointed king of Israel while a teenager, but he didn’t take the throne for another 12-15 years - waiting patiently for God to remove King Saul - even when David had the opportunity to kill Saul - several times. David said this:
The Lord rewards every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness, for the Lord gave you into my hand today, and I would not put out my hand against the Lord’s anointed. Behold, as your life was precious this day in my sight, so may my life be precious in the sight of the Lord, and may he deliver me out of all tribulation.”
In trusting God there is always tension. Tension between what will be and what is. Tension between what God will do and waiting for Him to do it. Tension between what is seen (is God doing anything), and what is not seen (God is always at work).
How do we deal with that tension?
Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
Trusting in God, being still and waiting patiently do not necessarily mean inactivity.
Am I patient with God? If I trust God, I will be patient.
I think where we can become disillusioned or even disgruntled with God is this next one - which is connected to trusting.
4) Patience is a promise issue
When God gives a promise, He doesn’t break that promise - God is faithful, and He is not a man that He should lie. His promises are trustworthy. Because His promises are trustworthy, we can trust Him, in all His promises and wait patiently for His promises to be fulfilled.
Where we get into trouble regarding patience is trusting in or waiting for God to do something He never promised to do. I’ve met many people who are angry with God because God didn’t do what they wanted Him to do, when they wanted Him to do it and how they wanted Him to do it.
My question is 1) Who’s God in this scenario? 2) Did God tell you He would do ____________?
Where I can trust, and consequently wait patiently is in His promises. Where do we find His promises? So, the next time you find yourself getting angry with God, do a little homework …. Am I trusting in a bona fide promise from God either found in Scripture or given to me directly through His Spirit, or am I just wishful thinking?
For example - the tithe.
Don’t misconstrue thinking that God will provide for all you want or mismanagement of finances.
5) Patience is a perfecting issue
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Again, our mission statement - Helping people reach their full potential in Christ - reaching for perfection; completion. This is all about transformation - becoming like Jesus. God will work in our lives - He will test, He will challenge, He will stretch … all to produce a person who lives like Jesus.
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,
6) Patience is a witness issue
Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
The idea is God’s love, patience … leads to repentance. Who are we? Image-bearers. Ambassadors. Our patience is not just about us being patient. It’s about others seeing God’s people living like God - and that they too can live this way.
What do we do with all that?
Am I patient with God? Where do I lack patience? Why?
Am I patient with myself?
How can I, through the help of the Holy Spirit and fellow believers develop Christ-like patience?