Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Imitate Jesus… Patience!

            Although Jesus did not say much about patience directly, his life is the greatest example of living prayerfully and patiently.

            Once Jesus taught his disciples about their need to “always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1). He reminded them that patience and persistence are the keys to getting what you need in life – if your patience and persistence are directed towards God. Because Jesus knew God to be a loving Father, he lived on the basis of “asking” for the things he needed. “Ask and you will receive” is the spiritual approach to life that Jesus modeled clearly. The process of asking and receiving both teaches and demands patience!

            Because life is full of both difficult circumstances and people, we have an unending need for patience. Yet patience is never produced “in the heat of the moment” (which, of course, is when we need it!) but comes from previous successes or failures at attempting patience. Those who want to learn from Jesus will pay attention to his way of showing patience and will notice how he is working to develop patience in our lives.

           In difficult circumstances, Jesus relied on prayer and his knowledge of God’s faithfulness to see him through. Sometimes God delivered Jesus, like the time he walked through the hostile crowd that intended to throw him off a cliff at the edge of Nazareth (Luke 4:29-30); but sometimes Jesus was not delivered from his difficult circumstances, like the time he went to the cross, despite praying for it to be removed from his life. In all difficult situations Jesus was patient and obedient to the will of his Father.

            With difficult people, Jesus was patient, hoping to promote repentance and growth in their lives. Jesus was patient with Simon Peter as he moved from impetuous to mature. Jesus was patient with John as he learned to trade “thunder” for love. Jesus was patient with Paul as he grew from persecutor of the church to apostle to the Gentiles. Jesus is patient with you as you are learning to walk with him. Jesus is always willing to patiently encourage people who are seeking to grow.   

            Paul once said, “Love is patient…” He learned this from the patience that Jesus showed to him. He also learned to imitate Jesus in showing patience. To the church in Ephesus, Paul wrote, “Be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)  This is a deep spiritual truth – we desperately need Jesus and others to be patient with us as we grow in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we need to extend that same patience to others as they grow.

            Peter once said, The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) This is the desire of God – that everyone has the time to grow to the point that they desire repentance and salvation. His strategy is that he will be patient with people, encouraging and prompting them to righteousness. Because he is patient with us, he calls us to, in turn, be patient with others. Patience leads to salvation, both for us and for others.

- Kenny Payne

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