Author: Ron Graham
The most frequent object of your impatience may be yourself. If we would be fully rounded as patient people, then we must learn to be patient with ourselves.
"Be patient with all men" says Paul (1Thessalonians 5:14). All men must include ourselves. So, whilst we must be patient with everyone else, we must also demonstrate the same patience toward our own selves. How is this done?
We, as Christians, are earth-bound creatures, seeds underground. Trapped in space and time, we live with all the limitations and weaknesses of the flesh. Yet we have heavenly ideals and eternal aspirations. Is that not a recipe for extreme frustration unless we understand and manage the situation?
We are also growing people. This year we are not as spiritually strong and mature as we will be next year. We often see little children frustrated with themselves, and we say, “Never mind, one day you'll be old enough to do that.”
We need to see ourselves spiritually as always developing, and be patient with ourselves as we grow in Jesus, bearing fruit with patience.
A key element of patient self improvement is knowledge. "Add to your faith virtue... knowledge... self-control... patience... godliness... brotherly kindness... love" (2Peter 1:5-7).
Peter knows that "the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" makes us "neither barren nor unfruitful" (2Peter 1:8). We equip ourselves with the knowledge of Christ, and thereby gain control of ourselves, becoming patient with ourselves as we grow in godliness and Christian love. The knowledge of Christ empowers us.
If you have injured your leg, you have to be patient while it improves, and that is easier to do if you keep up the exercise that the doctor assures you will help it improve. In the same way, as Christians we have a well-founded hope that the way we are now is not the way we will always be, but far better things lie ahead.
"Tribulation makes for patience... proven character... hope" (Romans 5:3-5). Hope feeds back on our patience, so we grow stronger in character, and this experience builds our hope, which again feeds back on our patience, and so on, ever upward.
We are going to have troubles and trials. That is unavoidable. So we have two alternatives. We can let them discourage us and break our spirit, or we can let them be experiences that build strength and character and patience.
"The trying of your faith works patience. But let patience do its ultimate work too, that you may be mature and complete..." (James 1:3-4). Trials build patience, and patience builds maturity. Trials make us grow.
Trying to be patient with ourselves by ourselves is like trying to lift ourselves into the air by pulling on our shoe laces. We need to grow in God's strength and power, not our own. "Strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, to attain all steadfastness and patience with joy" (Colossians 1:11).
This power is given us in a very special way. "Strengthened with power by his Spirit in the inner man" (Ephesians 3:16).
If you have lost your keys, what is the best way to find them? Is it a good strategy to go banging around, ranting and raving, throwing cushions and newspapers around the room? Or is it better to calmly, thoughtfully, and patiently seek the keys, until they turn up? I suppose there's a great difference in looking for eternal life, but the principle is the same.
We, "by patience in doing good, seek for glory and immortality —eternal life" (Romans 2:7).
As we grow, as we walk step by step along the narrow road, getting closer and closer to our eternal home, let us be patient in the journey. Furthermore, as God is longsuffering and patient toward us, let us also be patient with ourselves.