A few days ago, I was reading Romans 2. I don’t recall what took me there or if I just opened my bible and started reading. The whole chapter is about God’s judgment of our sin and our disregard of the law, specifically when we are busy condemning others for the same sin. If I may be bold enough to summarize, it is dealing with spiritual hypocracy. The last verse (29) also summarizes where our heart should be by stating ‘And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people’.
I say all of that to state what kind of stuck in my mind a bit – and that was a few words in verse 7. Disclaimer: I summarized the meaning of the chapter so that when I drill down into just a few words in verse 7, we all understand that the whole chapter has a different focus than what I am going to point out from verse 7. Its never okay to change the meaning of the scripture, and I don’t want you to take that away from this posting.
Rom 2:7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life (KJV)
Rom 2:7 He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. (NLT)
Patient continuance – wow…did that resonate with me. Patient continuance in well doing. What exactly does that mean? Well, the scripture is saying that those who patiently seek after obeying God’s laws will inherit eternal life. In context of verse 29, it means through a change of heart by the spirit of God. So how do we patiently seek to obey God’s laws? Well, that would mean to do good works with a spirit-filled heart – and there are plenty of scriptures to support that such as Titus 2:7 or I Tim 6:18 and 19.
So back to my topic: why did that word patient stick in my mind? Well, for starters, as a society, we have forgotten what patience is. Sure, there are some individuals who are dipped in melted patience, covered in patience-flavored sprinkles, drizzled with patient sauce, and topped with some whipped patience. But most of us aren’t quite there. We’re lucky if we have the patient cherry on top, right? Why is that? Perhaps, we can take a look at the influences on our lives, and come to an answer together (or stick with my answer since I am writing this blog). Many of the things we do involve receiving gratification quickly. Vehicles, cell phones, computers, Internet, email, texting, tablets, and microwaves all help create a quick result to our immediate need. Who remembers rotary dial phones? Remember when you got to the last number and you dialed the wrong digit?? The agony. 45 seconds of my life wasted…gone forever.
So what does that have to do with our spiritual life? We expect everything to come quickly, including spiritual matters simply because it popped into our head. We are used to instant gratification – the quick result to an immediate want or need. Hello – how long did God wait on us??
So what’s the application? We should be patient with ourselves while trying to work on overcoming our fleshly habits? Yes of course we should. But what else? How about patiently loving others while they are working on reconciling their salvation, and/or fleshly habits. Yes!! Patience also applies to others, just as Christ was patient with us while we were yet sinners. Actually, the scripture says that He loved us while we were yet sinners. Part of love is being patient (I Cor 13:4). So that goes to stand that he loves others who are struggling with sin.
So if we are striving to reflect Jesus Christ and mirror his actions (which we are), and He loves the sinner, and love is patient…is it that far of a stretch to determine that we should also love the sinner, and since love is patient, we should be patient with the sinner? Of course, especially since we’re all sinners.
When your friends, brothers, and those who do not know Christ are open to hear you, be loving, be patient, be kind, and only share as much of God’s word as they are willing to take in. Don’t worry…they’ll come back for more in time. Be patient. That is the same grace extended to us. II Tim 2: 24 and 25 say that (24) A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. (25) Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. By the way, when your friends, brothers, those who don’t know Christ aren’t open to hear you, still be loving, be patient, be kind. It’s okay.