by Jon Walker
“Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” (Ephesians 4:2b NLT)
The more we understand, the more patient we become. When we see the hurt beneath the anger, or the reason behind the behavior, we’re more likely to “make allowance for each other’s faults.” The ability to understand is a sign of patience. (Proverbs 14:29) The Bible teaches, “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” (Proverbs 19:11 NIV) God’s wisdom teaches us that love is patient (1 Corinthians 13:4), and that impatience is not love.
When facing a challenge to our patience, it helps to remember God is not asking us to give more patience to others than the patience he gives to us. The apostle Paul uses his own life as an example of this, saying God showed him mercy, despite his many sins, so that “Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience.” (1Timothy1:16 NIV)
We need patience with one another because God created each of us with different shapes, assigning each of us a different mission in life. We all have different backgrounds, and we’re each at a different place in our journey with Jesus. Practicing patience keeps our view on the things above, allowing us to see how God works even in the most difficult of circumstances. It is in patience we often learn that diversity is a strength, instead of a weakness.
The apostle Paul wrote, “Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with – even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.” (Romans 14:1 MSG)
What does this mean?
· Work at being consistently patient – Anybody can be patient when it’s convenient, but it’s much harder to remain patient when the day is slipping away or when you’re faced with the same mistake for the third time in one week. Patience often comes at significant cost; it requires you set aside your agenda and yield your rights in order to “welcome each other with open arms.”
· Learn to listen – Listening means more than just hearing someone talk; it means carefully considering what the other person is saying and actively trying to understand his or her point of view. The Bible says, “Listen before you answer. If you don’t, you are being stupid and insulting.” (Proverbs 18:13 TEV) That’s pretty clear! It means we shouldn’t evaluate what someone has done or said until we’ve heard the full story. God gave us two ears and one mouth, perhaps to tell us we should listen twice as much as we talk. Ha!
· Ask yourself these questions:
§ What makes me impatient?
§ What does my impatience say about my prioritiesí
§ How can I better understand the people who bring out my impatience?
§ Have I taken time to listen to their full storiesí
§ In what ways do people have to be patient with me?
§ Do I give the same amount of grace to others as I expect them to give me?
§ “Love is patient.” (1 Corinthians 13:4 NIV) – that means love puts up with a lot for a long time. The next time your patience reaches its limit, remember how patient and understanding Jesus is with you.
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