At a recent men’s bible study it was observed that while boys or immature men often want to fit in, spiritual men resist compromise (Romans 12:1-2). While the immature often want to play, the mature will work first. And while boys have a hard time waiting, men have the patience to wait.
How is Your Patience?
Are you surrounded by people, such as parents or fellow Christians who are good at waiting? Mom and Dad, what is your present level of patience? Are you setting a good example to your children of someone who doesn’t opt for the quick fix, but who waits for God? Observe that the individuals in Hebrews chapter 11 who are presented to us as having the kind of faith that is genuine and that pleases God (Hebrews 11:6), were all equally excellent at waiting:
- “All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13).
- “So that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:12).
- Joseph, Moses and Daniel were great examples of men who could wait, rather than opting for some temporary sinful pleasure. “Choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25).
You Will Be Surrounded… all Your Life
From childhood I have been surrounded by people who were willing to patiently wait and at the same time, people who opted by the quick fix and instant gratification. I am convinced that most people are equally surrounded by such examples. Allow me to make the following observations:
- The patient and impatient will often be seen in the same family. For example, Jacob could wait and Esau could not. Jacob was thinking long-term and Esau, short-term (Hebrews 12:16). Yet these two boys were twins and were raised by the same parents, in the same household.
- The patient and impatient will even be observed in the church. You will see people stay with God over the long-term and you will see others leave and opt for the temporary reward. “For many walk of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things” (Philippians 3:18-19).
- “For Demas, having loved this present world has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica” (2 Timothy 4:10).
Jesus warned of the possibility that we could become careless, and start thinking that the final accounting is far in the future and thus abuse our opportunities in the moment.
- “Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes… But if that slave says in his heart, ‘My master will be a long time in coming’, and begins to beat the slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him” (Luke 12:42-46).
Wisdom: The Right Surroundings
In light of the above parable, I need to surround myself with people who encourage me to “keep on doing the will of the Master”. There are a number of questions that you should have when considering which local church to would be best for you and your family. One question would be, “Will this group of people encourage me to remain a faithful and sensible steward?” Or, is this a group of people who are all tending to become rather careless in their faithfulness? They are trying to convince me that when the Master comes He will be very lenient?
Do Not Argue With…
Wisdom, among other things, means embracing the truth (John 18:37). I have found that the people who are being successful in disciplining themselves to be faithful and patient, do not argue with the following truths:
- You will reap what you have sown: Galatians 6:7
- Be like the ant, be diligent, and the laziness of the sluggard will always catch up to them: Proverbs 6
- There is no time to waste: Ephesians 5:16
- Everything you do matters and we will be judged for all that we did: Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
- In order to be right with God, you must obey Him: Matthew 7:21-23
- Half-hearted attempts in serving God will end in failure: Revelation 3:16
Patience and Brain Chemistry
Long ago the Bible repeatedly argued that sin and unbelief affect far more than just your body:
- “Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, that falls away from the living God… so that none of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:12-13).
- “That no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled, that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau…” (Hebrews 12:15-16).
Studies have shown that the brain patterns and activity of those who practice patience are different from individuals who opt for instant gratification. Just a heads up. We are making it far easier on ourselves, we are setting up ourselves for success in the future if we practice patience today. While opting for the instant fix today only robs us and makes us weaker and far less likely to succeed. This really helps explain interactions between the faithful and unfaithful, wherein the faithful both hear and see the words and actions of the unfaithful and just cannot relate. As if the unfaithful are from another planet. We can create a situation in which we are thinking clearly and we can equally create a situation in which we are not thinking clear… at all. Faith, hope, and patience create healthy brain chemistry. Be forewarned. When you are sinning you are making the choice to deliberately mess with the original wiring in your heart, will and mind. All you have to do is simply sit back and watch the faithful and the unfaithful over the years and you will see a huge difference (Psalm 37:34; 91:8).
Faith and Patience: Hebrews 6:12
Faith and patience are an unbeatable combination. With them people in the past were able to:
- Do what seemed like an impossible task: Hebrews 11:7
- Overcame all the “what if” and mockers comments.
- Saw the value of the right things: 11:10, 25
- Made the right decisions: 11:25 “Choosing rather”.
- Considered and feared the right things: 11:26-27
- Avoided disasters that came upon the unfaithful: 11:7, 31 “did not perish along with those who were disobedient”.
Thus, without faith and patience:
- I will value the wrong things.
- I will choose the wrong things.
- I will trust in and believe the wrong things.
- I will fight the wrong battles.
- I will fear the wrong things.
- I will focus upon and have all the wrong goals, pursuits, dreams and priorities.
Lessons from the Patient
- They avoided and saw through the quick fix.
- They were “high hope” people. They did not argue “I can’t”. They tried, they put in the effort, and they tackled big tasks.
- They were involved in writing how the story of their life would end.
Mark Dunagan | firstname.lastname@example.org
Beaverton Church of Christ | 503-644-9017