“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:12-14)
There is a general sense of arming for battle in this passage, and patience is a key element in the protective gear that is being described here.
Unfortunately, our generation has been subtly stripped of this magnificent armor. What has happened to patience in our world? Why is it so difficult to bear with one another in love? How can we receive forgiveness so richly and abundantly every day and be so stingy when it comes to sharing it with others?
Two words: “instant gratification.”
Satan has launched an aggressive campaign against one of our nine chief spiritual weapons, and it has been devastatingly effective. We want what we want when we want it – now! Whether it’s material wealth and possessions, earthly success, answers from God, or even compliance from other human beings in our lives, Satan has rendered most of us nearly incapable of wielding patience as a weapon.
Across the country and throughout the world, Christian couples are finding it more and more difficult to overlook offenses and patiently endure the minor (or major) annoyances of their spouses – we’ve seen the casualties in the broken relationships and divorce statistics. Christian parents have trouble rearing their children gently and patiently in a world that teaches instant results and entitlement. Road rage, workplace disputes, and all manner of senseless reactionary violence demonstrate the basic inability to brush off even the most petty and insignificant insults and inconveniences.
Satan’s war on patience has perpetuated every kind of evil imaginable. Truly, a great many of our social ills are caused by the absence of this virtue. Much of the conflict and tension in every kind of relationship is due largely to a lack of patience. And do we really think that our witness and testimony to Christ’s cross goes unaffected by our impatience with those to whom we preach – and with the Holy Spirit?
The key to a patient heart is love. Whenever we feel ourselves losing patience with our spouse, our child, our coworker, or anyone else, we need to look to the cross. Mindful of Jesus’ patience with our sinful world, we draw from Him the strength to bear with our loved ones patiently. Love binds the armor tightly together; without it, our protection falls to the ground and fails. Along with love, the joy and peace we have through Jesus’ righteousness and salvation will help us to patiently resist whatever temptations and attacks the Devil hits us with. We can once again take up this keen spiritual weapon, strike down the wicked inclinations of our impetuous hearts, and wait with gladness upon the Lord our Savior. Where the Devil has disarmed us, the Lord our God equips us mightily through the power of His Word.
“But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1:16)
“…being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.” (Colossians 1:11-12)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, as You have dealt with me in patience, help me to also deal with those around me in a manner that reflects Your love; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, my Lord. Amen.