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This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.
Patience… now there is a topic we can’t cover too quickly! On Sunday we looked at the fourth trait of the fruit of the Spirit in our Punch series. We used three objects to help us define this word.
The most common word for patience in NT comes from a compound of “long” (makros) and “temper” (thymos). In the OT, the concept is denoted by Hebrew ’ārēḵ, meaning ‘long’. The idea is to set the timer of one’s temper for a long run. We might be use to “5 minutes” but God might be asking for 30 minutes!
Built into this idea of patience is endurance, constancy, steadfastness, perseverance - to remain under something. So patience isn’t passivity, but rather properly-expressed activity. It may appear like someone is doing nothing but in actual fact lots of activity is going on. When you look at a duck in the water, it may appear that they are just sitting there but below the surface, hidden from human sight, their webbed feet are paddling.
Finally, as you look at the practice of patience in the Bible one comes to quickly realize that patience is about keeping in step with God’s timing. Patience can have the effect of a metronome - it is about keeping in sync, in step and being led by the Spirit in all of my encounters.
The big idea we looked at on Sunday was that patience involves living in a way that is, at times, contrary to my human spirit, but in step with the Holy Spirit.
In light of the above definitions consider the following questions:
- Where/with whom do you need to set a longer timer?
- Where/with whom do you need to keep paddling?
- Where/with whom do you need to work on keeping in step with God’s metronome?
Let’s consider three applications of patience:
#1 With Others….. in leadership
When it came to leadership Paul expected leaders to be patient and he himself modeled patience. Check out 2 Tim 4:1,2, 2 Cor. 6:3,4 ). In one sense, we are all leaders. As parents we lead, as spouses we at times take the lead on certain issues, at the work place, in friendship. Think about the following statements and how they apply to your situation of practicing patience with people. Perhaps one of these statements will describe exactly how you are feeling in a particular relational situation.
- Patience may mean not acting, not speaking (biting your tongue), not deciding.... YET - but giving space, allowing time to run its course.
- Patience may mean that in acting, speaking and deciding you go about doing it with a patient tone, demeanor, saying what needs to be said but in a patient way.
- Patience may mean releasing only so much information, or words of instruction. Dumping the whole mother lode might overwhelm.
- Patience may mean giving up your way and letting someone do it their way.
- Patience may mean letting someone “hang” themselves so that they might listen next time.
- Patience may mean not abandoning even though it would be very easy to walk away.
When attempting to practice patience with people there are a number of factors that can rob us of patience.
- Conflict with anger can quickly snatch this trait from us (check out Proverbs 15:18, James 1:19, Ecc. 7: 8,9)
- How have you seen conflict steal away patience?
- Made any wrong decisions because the conflict sabotaged your patience and you acted inappropriately?
- What do you do to prepare for conflict so that you don’t lose your patience?
#2 With Myself
“Your nature is a hard thing to change; it takes time…. I have heard of people who have life-changing, miraculous turnarounds, people set free from addiction after a single prayer, relationships saved where both parties ‘let go, and let God.’ But it was not like that for me. For all that ‘I was lost, I am found,’ it is probably more accurate to say, ‘I was really lost. I'm a little less so at the moment.’ And then a little less and a little less again. That to me is the spiritual life. The slow reworking and rebooting the computer at regular intervals, reading the small print of the service manual. It has slowly rebuilt me in a better image. It has taken years, though, and it is not over yet.” —Bono, lead singer of U2
Perhaps the most difficult person in expressing patience towards is yourself. Our spiritual growth demands patience. It is only as we patiently walk with God, keep in step with the Spirit does He grow us and shape us. Check out Luke 8:5 and Romans 5:3,4
Patience is the companion that we need to become all God desires us to grow in to.
- We fall - patience says we get up
- We relapse - patience says we go at it again
- We have a bad day - patience says tomorrow is a new start
- We fail in a particular task - patience says we learn from the failure
- We are a disaster in a relationship - patience says we own our piece, do the time for the crime - become wiser for next time.
A Chinese proverb says, “Patience is power; with time and patience the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown.” Ours is not the first generation to struggle with the frustrations of waiting. Patience is power because patience is partly what it means to live by the Spirit.
#3 With God
Ever felt God was out of sync?
Ever looked at the timer and said- how long Oh Lord must I be patient?
Ever felt like a duck- paddling, persevering and wondering- Where is all of this getting me?
Ever wished God’s metronome would speed up or slow down or.....?
Has exercising your patients with God ever resulted in complaining? Check out these complaints?
Our patience with God might not get God to do what we want Him to do but can result in God shaping us into the kind of person He wants us to become.
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