“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2 NIV)
Patience... involves being long-suffering with others. Not only do the events of life challenge us, but people can get on our nerves, too. When family members, friends or even acquaintances let us down, we need to run quickly to God’s wardrobe and put on some divine patience. I say “divine” patience because in ourselves we all too easily become resentful toward those who accidentally or purposely injure us. But the church God blesses lives with a consciousness of how patient the Lord has been with them—over and over again.
Even among fellow Christians there will sometimes be problems and hurts. That is exactly why Paul wrote, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another” (Colossians 3:13). Our immaturity often causes us to react by saying, “Hey, how could they do that? I thought they were Christians!” How childish it is to think that in this life we won’t have to deal with complaints, differences, and quarrels from time to time!
Whenever someone acts or talks inappropriately, God has given us another opportunity to obey this command: “Be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2). Why would this admonition about “bearing with one another” be in the Bible unless God knew there would always be things that are hard to bear? (In fact, just take one ride on a New York City subway and you will know why God put this verse in the Bible: “Be patient with everyone” [1 Thessalonians 5:14]).
Being patient with everyone might seem difficult for us, but from a heavenly perspective how can we not be patient? When we silently seethe against someone who has hurt us and harbor resentment for decades, the angels in heaven must be tempted to take off their halos and scratch their heads. How can they not be puzzled? We were once in rebellion against God, yet he waited patiently for us to turn away from our sin. Some of us cursed, lied, and violated every holy commandment of our loving God. He could have obliterated us, but instead he showed incredible patience. He was long-suffering with us. He waited for us to come to him. Even after coming to faith in Christ, we have stumbled and fallen more times and in more ways than anyone except God and us can know. But still, in love, he patiently picks us up as a loving father would a frail child. Surely the angels stand perplexed that sinful people to whom the holy God has shown such patience could be so resentful of others who have “failed” them and then justify their silent bitterness on top of it!
Oh, let us run quickly to the throne of grace so we can put off the horrible rags of resentment against anyone and put on the patience of Christ! Each of us has experienced God’s love in a way that should soften our hearts and make us sweet and long-suffering even toward the unkindest people…
-Pastor Cymbala (excerpted from The Church God Blesses)
Read Ephesians 4:1-6.