Patience is a grace as difficult as it is necessary,
and as hard to come by as it is precious when it is gained.
- Charles Spurgeon
In Colossians 3, Paul uses the metaphor of putting on new clothes to describe the Christian life. He challenges us to "put off" (or take off) our old clothes and "put on" our new clothes. One of the things we're challenged to “put on” is patience. Apart from Christ, we are not naturally patient people. We live in a world where we expect everything now. We're constantly looking for fast results, quick fixes, and things to happen on our timetable.
This expectation often finds its way into our relationships with others. In our self-centeredness, preferences, and schedules, our desires take precedence over others. When others, intentionally or unintentionally, stand in the way of us getting what we want and when we want it, our patience is lost. We react, not with compassion, kindness, humility, or gentleness, but with anger and rage.
Just this morning while trying to get our kids out the door for church, our oldest daughter wasn’t meeting my expectation of getting out of the house on time. She was moving slowly, making excuses, and standing in the way of my timeliness. I tried to stay calm, but it came to a head and I lost my cool.
Paul begins this chapter by saying, “Since you have been raised with Christ…” This assumes you’ve first died with Christ and your self-centeredness has been crucified in the process. Paul reminds us it’s not all about us. It’s about putting others first. In light of this new way of thinking, we can relinquish our preferences and our need to control. We can step into the shoes of another with compassion and kindness, putting their needs and desires above our own. This is how we "put on" patience. Not by trying harder, but by putting others first.
1. What situations easily cause you to lose your patience?
2. What practice can you try in those situations to help nurture patience?
3. In what recent situations has God been patient with you?