We're picking back up with the sin of impatience.
Last episode we saw how impatience can be battled by learning to overlook offenses by others that commonly breed impatience within your own heart. We hope you sought to practice it a bit over the week and if so, that you saw improvements.
This sin is a hard one to root out and it takes practice.
Today we have two more principles to share that will give you more help in fighting against impatience.
Principle #2 – A godly person learns to lovingly confront offenses.
Again, if you often find yourself impatient with something that somebody is doing, and you can’t overlook it, then you should address it, especially if it is sin.
Matthew 18:15 is clear that if someone sin you should go and show his fault.
Now this seems contrary to the previous point that we can overlook a sin (1Pet. 4:8), but what is in view here is an egregious sin or a pattern of sin.
Again, a sin committed that is not normally committed, should be overlooked.
For instance, if someone shows impatience toward you, or if someone speaks an unkind word, or acts in a selfish manner.
These we can simply overlook, if it is not the person’s normal character or habit.
But if the sin is a pattern in the person’s life, then you should confront them. Not only will this help you from getting impatient, but you will serve your brother or sister well.
There are times where you overlook an offense so long, that you are no longer overlooking something, but encouraging negligence or sin in a person’s life. When this happens, you can only blame yourself when you find yourself getting frustrated faster and quicker with someone.
Impatience and frustration is always your fault, because it’s an issue of the heart. But it is especially the case when you choose not to address true sinful patterns in another person’s life (e.g., your spouse, child, etc.).
When they keep doing a sinful action, and you get frustrated with them because it is affecting you, you now bear responsibility.
As a side note, it is important to keep in mind that when a person sins against you, it does not give room for you to respond in sinful impatience, frustration, or anger.
Now, there is a righteous kind of anger. In fact, God is the perpetual state of this (e.g., Deut. 9:8; Rom. 2:5). So when a person truly sins against you, you are allowed to be angry at the unjust nature of the act. However, the purpose of the anger is to lead you to a righteous response that will deal with it in a true, just manner.
NOTE: People talk about anger being a useless emotion. That is not true. The purpose of righteous anger is to compel a person to seek out and execute justice in a righteous manner. This is exactly how it works with God. His righteous anger is what drives His righteous judgments. He doesn’t overlook or ever become passive about sin. Rather, He will remain in a state of anger until the penalty of the sin is paid for.
But, having said all of this, the reality is that it is very rare that our anger is perfectly righteous. There is a righteous anger (or righteous impatience), but be careful in justifying your impatience to be an impatience that is holy.
We’re quick to call something a sin and get irritated about it, but the reality is that it wasn’t sin. Rather, we were simply inconvenienced.
Principle #3 - A godly person understands that patience is key for true fruitfulness.
This is something especially true for pastors. There are many things in a church that pastors can become impatient about—everything from the logistics and administrative responsibilities as you are mostly dealing with volunteers to the sin in people's lives.
But Paul is very careful to give Timothy instruction on this point—and it is something I personally remind myself of often.
2 Tim. 4:1-2 “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction...”
This is that great passage that defines and controls much of what we do as pastors.
We reference it often, and teach on it often, but not much time is spent on that important little phrase tucked in at the end.
We believe in the work of the Word, but what we have to remind ourselves of is that the work of the Word is often slow. And this is in God’s design.
However, Paul obviously understood the impatience that can happen in ministry, and so He is careful to include this qualifier for how this work is to be done.
In fact, this is an issue that has disqualified many from ministry—and it’s rooted in pride. Many pastors push too hard too fast, and the reason is because they want to build their church (or build their brand). Yet in so doing they run over the sheep, and are even willing to harm some. This is evil. It is impatience. And it’s grounded in pride.
Rather, if you are a pastor who is listening to this—something that we must remember is that the Lord will bless your ministry in His timing—which you may not even see until heaven.
So instead, be a faithful pastor. Preach the Word. And do it with much patience.
Having said that, the principle applies to any area of the Christian life.
- In your marriage.
- In your child-rearing.
- In your evangelism.
- In your service within the local church.
All of it is to be done not merely with patience, but great patience.
So the key to true fruitfulness is taking the longer view. Simply be faithful, and see what the Lord does.
A great challenge in the Christian life is learning the discipline of waiting on the Lord. We are not sovereign, but He is. We cannot control our life, but He does. And while we understand this, we forget this.
Listen to some ways that patience is expressed and accomplishes in the OT:
Patience reveals a courageous person: Psalm 27:14 – “Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.”
Patience reveals a hopeful person: Psalm 130:5 – “I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His Word do I hope.”
Patience results in fulfilled promises: “Wait for the Lord and Keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land.”
Patience is synonymous with rest: Psalm 37:7 – “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.”
Patience results in the Lord showing kindness to you: Lam. 3:25 – “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person Who seeks Him.”
Here, patience is synonymous with seeking God.
Sometimes we seek God, and think it should immediately produce what we want.
But here, patience means we seek God, but it also means that He will show us His goodness in His timing.
This is picked up in Matt. 6:33:
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 "So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Here we have a promise of provision, if we are busy seeking the kingdom.
However, there is not a qualification as to the timing of that provision.
So we are to be busy seeking the kingdom, and God will provide in his timing.
This involves much patience.
We get frustrated when God doesn’t provide in our timing. But this is an unholy impatience, and we should not expect God’s blessing and provision if this is our attitude.
Patience results in new strength: Isa 40:31 – “Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.”
But perhaps beyond all of these, we should be patient because it reflects the nature and character of our God.
Rom. 2:4 - “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”
If God was not by nature patient, we’d all be judged and condemned.
But in His anger toward sin, He brings it under the control of His patience, so that we might have time to repent.
In fact, this is affirmed in Rom. 9:22-23:
“What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory…”
Here, God shows patience even toward the non-elect, but so that He might display (and make known) His riches and glory toward the elect.
This is why the unjust experience the good gifts of God. They don’t understand God is showing them patience. But His patience has purpose-- to bring in the elect.
Paul writes of this reality in His own personal testimony.
1 Tim. 1:16 - “Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.”
And there are many more that we could look at.
So a lot more could be said, but these are some essential thoughts about this issue.
The big takeaway for us in our culture is that impatience is not a virtue, despite its pragmatic results.
Rather, what pleases the Lord is patience. We easily forget that he puts us into inconvenient and difficult situations on purpose. He wants to forge us into the image of Christ.
Folks, we would do well to embrace that sanctification is often inconvenient.
It is difficult.
It is painful.
It can be frustrating.
But God is in the business of rooting out the sin in our life.
This means He takes things away that we enjoy, and that are convenient.
This means He intentionally makes things slow for us—(e.g., like when our child won’t learn something quicker, or they keep making messes, or your spouse keeps leaving towels on the floor.).
This means He pours us through the crucible of trials and frustrations—like when He puts us in a difficult marriage, or He hasn’t yet provided a spouse, or He hasn’t yet released us from a difficult job.
But if we believe that God is in the business of crafting into us the better image of His Son, this should bring us great joy, and in this we can rest.
He loves us, He cares for us, and He only gives us that which is good for us.
The truth is we are far more prideful, self-centered, and self-seeking than any of us would like to admit.
But the sooner we can learn that God has not created us for ourselves (and our own pleasures), but to bring glory to Him, we’ll ironically find ourselves more content, more joyful, and far less frustrated.
This is not our world. God did not create it for us. Rather we are sojourners through a broken age (crippled by sin).
And so, a great remedy for living well is learning the discipline of putting off impatience, and putting on patience. This is hard, but it is what God desires of us.
So for those struggling with impatience right now, especially toward a person in the church, let us leave you with this command of Paul:
Col. 3:12-13 “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.”