II Timothy 2:24, “And the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, PATIENT.”
Every Christian is engaged in a unique kind of war, whether they realize it or not, and it is a spiritual war. The intense nature of this conflict calls for specific characteristics to be found in the soldiers who would advance forward and release prisoners from the stronghold of the enemy. To those who are not consciously aware of the condition of their bondage, this passage may seem irrelevant. It was Charles Schulz, creator of the Peanut comic strip who said, “The people that make the most difference in our lives are not the people with the most money, credentials, and awards; but they are the ones who care.” We must not have a careless attitude toward their suffering state, but rather demonstrate genuine patience daily if we would be successful rescuing these spiritual POW’s. Many of us need an expanded knowledge of what it means to exhibit patience. What does it mean to be patient, not culturally, but Biblically? Notice a few defining traits of patience in action.
Stay in place and keep moving, even if you’re not making progress. Many people hold the belief that patience equals inactivity, but one Hebrew root for patience proves this theory wrong. Psalm 37:7 describes patience as it encourages us to “rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him.” In Judges 21:21 the same Hebrew root is translated “dance in dances” as it describes the daughters of Shiloh. These daughters were dancing for joy (not in a secular fashion,) and the children of Benjamin were instructed to find one, make her his wife, and carry her away. Patience is personified in the daughters of Shiloh as an attitude that remains active while it is waiting. When it seems as though your efforts are futile, keep at it, knowing that the answer is just around the bend.
Hold it together and don’t fall apart, especially during this time. When someone is away from the Lord, the devil always whispers, “Everybody’s thinking about you; don’t go back to church!” That is exactly the time they need to go back to church. In Psalm 40:1, David testifies, “I waited patiently for the LORD.” In Genesis 1:9 another Hebrew root for patience reads “gathered together unto one,” as the account of the creation of the waters is narrated. There is a great lesson here: When someone is not doing the right thing, we tend to fall apart financially, mentally, and emotionally. God says, “You’ve got to hold it together! This is not the time to fall apart.”
Stay aloft and keep soaring, in spite of the burdens and cares of life. When people who are held captive in sin’s prison see Christians who are overwhelmed with life’s circumstances, it misrepresents God’s ability to break their binding chains. The Hebrew root translated “patient in spirit” in Ecclesiastes 7:8 is translated “long-winged” in Ezekiel 17:3. Patience soars above disappointment and discouragement. It is the wings of a bird that allow it to soar effortlessly for long lengths of time, causing it to rise by catching the updrafts of the wind. People are attracted to a freedom that can make them soar above life’s problems. Keep soaring!
One reason God expects so much out of us in the exercise of patience is because He is the perfect example of patience, and we are to be like Him. The very essence and nature of God is that of patience and longsuffering. Where would we be were it not for a patient Father who kept moving in our heart even when we didn’t respond right away? We would have been destroyed and wiped out a long time ago. People need to see divine patience manifested consistently in our lives in order for us to effectively represent Him as the patient and loving Savior who can make them free.