I’ll just say this now and get it over with. You don’t have to be patient. You don’t have to. It’s your choice. It’s your free will. It’s your life. Impatience is an option. Go ahead and take it. They probably don’t deserve patience, appreciate it, or even acknowledge it. They don’t show gratitude. They don’t give back. They don’t seem to care. And their chances have probably run out.
But know this…you won’t receive the promises if you choose impatience.
Oh, I can’t tell you what the promises are, for some are reserved just for you. Our good God knows how to give good gifts, and since gifts are often personal, the promises He wants to give you will most likely be tailor-fitted to your situation, personality, and faith journey. Listen to this:
The writer of Hebrews says God does not and will not forget the love you have shown toward His name, that is, other people. He goes on to encourage us to keep showing that love, (don’t be sluggish in doing so), being imitators of those who did the same and inherited the promises (6:10-12).
It was important enough that he mentioned it again:
You have need of patient endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, [that is, loving people], you may receive what was promised (10:36).
The words in chapter six come after the writer tells his audience to press on to maturity, not laying another foundation. One foundation is enough—you’ve repented and are saved. Now, move to maturity…by loving people with patience.
The words in chapter ten are no less challenging. He’s writing to people who have experienced suffering, persecution, and criticism at the hands of enemies. Does he encourage impatience? Fighting back? Retaliation? No. “Be patient,” he says, “and you‘ll get what’s promised.”
So, that’s the good news—there is promise to be enjoyed when we’re patient with people. Now, I have to tell you the bad news.
A book later, James has the same message, and uses an analogy to help explain it. He writes, “[After planting seed], the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains” (5:7). James was writing to people who knew about farming. I know next to nothing about farming, except that I’m grateful someone’s doing it for me. The little I know amounts to this: when James says the farmer is “patient about it,” he does not mean the farmer is sitting in his house, staring out the window, waiting for harvest. No, he’s working by cultivating the land and keeping insects and rodents away. “Patience is not passive resignation, but active endurance of opposition” (HIBD).
That’s the bad news—this love we’re called to takes more work than anything else we’ll ever do. But, remember the good news. There is a promise. James says it is the “precious produce of the soil.” I don’t know what the promise will be for you, but as it is with the farmer’s crops, it will be enjoyable, life-giving, and able to be shared with others. Choose patience!