Letters to the Family of God
by Joe Franzone | November 30, 2023 | Pastor's Blog
Patience is a Christian virtue. It is a fruit of the Spirit-filled life. (Galatians 5:22,23) It is a mark, first on the list, of what defines Godlike love. (1 Corinthians 13:4) Long-suffering is the old English word for patience; it means the capacity to accept or endure delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. However, in the ancient world, patience was understood differently.
In the Greco-Roman world, patience was perceived by those rich and powerful as a kind of gritty resolve. In other words, patience was seen as something you needed to have to get something, achieve something, or pursue a quest for personal gain. Patience of this kind could be perceived as selfishness.
When Latin writers in this period used the word patience, they thought of people who were submissive to others or victims of poverty, slavery, or need. Because of this, patience was seen as the right attitude for only the needy, poor, and people of no account who were on the receiving end of all kinds of actions or experiences they were powerless to overcome.
For these people, poverty-stricken and often female, to be patient was understood by others as humiliating, embarrassing. Patience was the response of people who were not free to define their goals or make their own choices. Mainly, patience was a response to those for whom patience was an inevitability and not a virtue. If you like, they had to have patience because they were powerless to make any change.
However, in Christianity, patience is nothing like this. Patience is a high virtue. Patience is at the heart of being a Christian because God is patient. For this reason, the God who dwells in us, our Father, whom we imitate (Ephesians 5:1), is our perfect example of patience. The following verse reveals the gracious patience of our God.
God is slow to anger.
Exodus 34:6, The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. . .
Numbers 14:18, The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. . .
Nehemiah 9:17, They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.
Psalm 86:15, But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
Psalm 103:8, The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
God’s patient kindness is meant to lead to repentance.
Romans 2:4, 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?
2 Peter 3:9, 15, The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. . .
Paul was converted in order to demonstrate Jesus’ perfect patience as an example.
1 Timothy 1:16, I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display His perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life.
God’s patience in His Son’s return is designed for salvation.
2 Peter 3:15, And count the patience of our Lord as salvation. . .
There is so much more. God generously shares the sun, air, water, and seasons with everyone, the just and the unjust alike, says Matthew 5:45. Common grace means God blesses the world and gives it what it does not deserve daily. God shows patience in a world where people mock Him daily and think either very little of Him or have no thoughts about Him.
The incarnation is itself a sign of God's patience. God becoming a man. God, who is eternal, bound Himself to time so that we could live with Him forever. Purposefully positioning Himself in love when the time had fully come.
Patience—may God grant us more.
God bless you in all things, great and small.