PATIENCE WITH OTHERS
LIFE Devotions–May 25, 2016
“May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. 6 Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.”
–Romans 15:5-7 [NLT]
Why do we get irritated and provoked by other people? Why do we reject others in our minds or make harsh judgments in our hearts against them? Why do we avoid them and resist the idea of having loving fellowship with them? It's because without the rule of God in our hearts, we become selfish and defensive. When the things we value feel threatened by someone else's behavior, we pull away to try to protect what we know to be safe, dear, and familiar. One person may value the freedom of not being tied to a schedule while another values the security of having every minute of their life planned out. One may value the company of people as a means to be energized while another may feel replenished by extended times of quiet and solitude. We are all different. Wired differently by God’s design. We are placed and raised in different families and cultures, influenced by different social circles and religious backgrounds. These are all grounds for a lot of conflict and misunderstanding, and without the Spirit of God leading our hearts, we will simply succumb to the tyranny of personal interest.
As believers in Christ, we need God’s help to live in harmony with each other, because we are all different. It would be impossible to fully embrace one another in Christian love without the divine intervention of the Holy Spirit who has poured out God’s love into our hearts (Romans 5:5), and with it, the fruit of patience (Galatians 5:22). But this is not the world’s patience which is short and quick tempered. This is God’s patience which is steadfast and long suffering. God places His patience in our hearts through the Holy Spirit so we can bear with one another in love and glorify Him when we meet together to praise Him with one voice.
How patient should I be with that difficult brother or sister that does things so differently than I do? How long should I put up with that person who keeps doing the same mistake over and over again? The answer is as long as we want God to put up with us and all our shortcomings. How patient is God with us? Infinitely patient. God is perfect in all His ways. He has never made a mistake or even come close to making one. He knows all things, is able to do all things, and is present in all places. So there is no one in the universe who can see our quirks and imperfections clearer than God and use them against us if we wanted. Yet He works with us. He forgives us. He provides for us. He calls us and uses us to do His work. There are more than one million reasons why God could ban us from His presence and disqualify us from His service, for we fall short so miserably of His perfect standard in every way. But because of Jesus Christ His Son, who carried upon His own body all our sins and imperfections, we can have fellowship with God and live to glorify His name. If God is patient with us, it would be a disgrace for us to not be patient with others. It would be a sign of pride and arrogance from our part, an insult to the mercy God has so generously given us through His Son Jesus.
– Ask the Holy Spirit to show you if you resist or pull away from certain people within the body of Christ. Inspect your heart and determine to show the same love and patience God has given you.
– Commit to be a Christian that is always modeling patience towards others who may seem difficult or weaker in faith, or may pose a threat to your own security because of their personality. Remember that God gives you encouragement so you don’t have to get it through self-promotion by criticizing or ignoring someone else.