But What if Patience Doesn’t Fit? – Biblical Garden of Love Part 1C
Last week my husband and I went out for a lunch date – allowing us to have a deep conversation without being interrupted or distracted. One of the questions I asked him was: What about me would you most like to see changed? His response: my short temper. Ouch! Talk about hitting it where it hurts. It’s true. I struggle with a short temper. I get impatient easily. I get frustrated too easily. I lash out too easily. Oh boy! It’s something I really need to work on. Patience is not something that comes easy to me, but that’s not an excuse to not be patient. Does patience drive my car? Not always.
BUT…We are so blessed to have this wonderful guidebook to life called the Bible, God’s Word. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” In the next four weeks, I’m going to use these verses as an outline.
Teaching – What does the Bible teach us about God regarding patience?
In Exodus 34, God talks to Moses, giving him instructions for making new stone tablets for the 10 commandments. God says about Himself, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness…” (vs 6). We should be patient with our spouse because God is patient with us. In a Biblical marriage, as a couple, you need to be striving to be more like Christ daily, following His principles for living. Patience is one of those principles. Why do you think the phrase “love is patient” is mentioned first in the line of things love is in 1 Corinthians 13? It’s important! I think God knew we wouldn’t be a patient people. (He can have such a sense of humor sometimes!) :o)
Three principles we can draw from this:
1) God is compassionate with His patience.
2 Peter 3:15 says, “Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation…” Because the Lord was patient with us, we have salvation. He could’ve struck Adam and Eve down immediately in the garden. He could’ve lost His patience in all the years between the fall and Christ’s life on earth. He could’ve lost His patience when Satan tempted Him in the wilderness or when the people mocked Him on the cross. But instead Christ was patient so He could bring us salvation – so He could bring us into right relationship with Him. He had compassion upon us – Jesus said on the cross, “Lord forgive them for they know not what they do.” Paul writes in 2 Peter 3:8 , “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” He is compassionate enough to wait for us to come to Him in repentance.
In marriage, we are to show compassionate patience toward our spouse. When Adam says something hurtful, it takes a lot of strength to bite my tongue. I try to extend him compassion and allow him the time to realize he has said something mean or that he has hurt me. I allow him the moment it takes for him to come to me and apologize before I jump in and berate him for saying something dumb yet again. The best way to describe this Biblical compassionate patience is God’s desire to free others from suffering. Instead of saying something mean in return, which would only cause more suffering, I “free” Adam, so to speak, by forgiving his weakness and allowing him a chance to make retribution. This also shows my husband that I submit to him, and that I respect him. Proverbs 19:11 says, “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” God brought greater glory to Himself by overlooking our offenses, so to speak, taking our punishment, and providing us with a clean slate. Sometimes we just have to let certain offenses drop. You do need to know when to let a subject drop and when to defend your case. If your spouse tells you he dislikes the color of the blouse you’re wearing, that’s not really cause for starting an argument. If he accuses you of mismanaging funds or he makes fun of you in public, then it’s time to have a serious conversation. It is wise to exercise patience, and through that wisdom, you’ll be able to ascertain when and when not to overlook offenses.
2) God is slow to anger through His patience.
Proverbs 15:18 says, “A hot tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.” I can’t tell you the number of times Adam and I have avoided a fight simply by me calming my temper inwardly and reminding myself it’s not worth fighting over. It’s a matter of pride. Pride is the root of impatience. The Bible mentions pride often in conjuncture with patience. 1 Corinthians 13 mentions that “love is not proud.” Ecclesiastes 7:8 says, “…patience is better than pride.” Ephesians 4:2 says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Colossians 3:12 reads, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”
Do you think about those articles of clothing when you’re getting dressed in the morning? Put on the patient blouse. Fasten the buttons of humility. Wear the necklace of compassion around your neck. Write gentleness and kindness on your heart every morning just as you’d wear your wedding ring faithfully. Otherwise you’ll expose your own pride and remember pride always comes before a fall (Proverbs 16:18). Think of it another way. The plant of patience needs to be well-watered with humility. Pride dries up patience quickly.
But what if patience doesn’t fit? God-sized patience and Hannah-sized patience can often be too different sizes. I personally dislike wearing clothes that are too tight. If patience doesn’t fit my lifestyle, then I need to sit down and have a serious chat with God. If the amount of patience you have with your spouse is too tight (a.k.a. you have a short fuse), you need to have one-on-one time with God and search your heart before you go back into the dressing room and try on some God-sized patience.
3) God abounds in love and faithfulness in His patience.
Maybe I just don’t get the Star Trek game that Adam loves. Maybe I don’t understand this movie he wants me to watch. I want to give up and quit or cry out in frustration, but I try to exercise patience in letting him teach me something he loves. The definition of bearing with someone is being faithfully patient with them. When you pledged to love, respect, honor, and cherish your husband, you may not have been thinking about being patient with him, but patience is mentioned first in the 1 Corinthians 13 passage: “Love is patient.” Being patient with your husband is loving him, respecting and honoring him.
Abound means “to be fully supplied or filled” according to the Free Online Dictionary. To abound in love and faithfulness, to abound in patience, we must first go to the source of these things. The Master Gardener is loving and faithful and patient. We are to follow His example and be watered by His Word. We are also to go to Him in prayer. Romans 15:5-6 reads, “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is written in the context of bearing with the failings of those who are weak, and not to please yourself… basically, don’t rejoice in iniquity or be happy because your spouse has screwed up.
Patience doesn’t just grow on trees. It is not an easy task to be patient. But does God ever say that living the Christian life will be easy? In John 1:33, Jesus is speaking to His disciples about how they will scatter when His time comes – “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation…” You will struggle because we are still sinful even if we’ve been justified. But have hope – Jesus continues, “But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Even Jesus Himself was tempted by Satan in the wilderness. But Jesus responded with Scripture. He didn’t cave because He was also fully God and as a fully human man He lived a perfect life.
Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses (the hall of faith mentioned in Hebrews 11), let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles (impatience, anger, pride, etc). And let us run with patience the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus (setting our minds on things above), the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”
Reflect Christ in your marriage as the sun is reflected upon the waters. Allow the beauty of Christ and His love to be reflected on your surface, but also to penetrate deep below your surface, taking root in your heart and soul. Reflect the patience Christ has in your marriage because patience reveals…
1) …our faith in God’s omnipotence, promises, and love
Hebrews 11:1 says “…faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” And Romans 8:25, I believe, expands upon this “…if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
By being patient with the Lord, you trust His power and strength to get you through the moments your husband is testing your patience, to get you through the times you are tempted to give into impatience and pride.
By being patient with the Lord, you trust His promises that He will never leave nor forsake you even when you are incredibly exasperated with your husband, and He will never allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear.
In being patient with the Lord, you are trusting in His love – that His plans are good, that His purposes are true, and that He loves you perfectly, unlike your husband. Until you experience God’s power, promises, and love in your life, you won’t be able to be patient with your husband, bear with his idiosyncrasies, forgive his offenses, and love him unconditionally.
2) …our trust in our husband’s ability to make decisions for himself, to recognize his own sins, and to reconcile with God and with us
We aren’t responsible for how our husband’s sins. We are responsible for our own – for our reactions, for our thoughts, for our words. James 1:4 says, “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (NKJV).
We need God to work the roots of patience in us so deeply so that we may be presented perfect and complete, lacking nothing, before the Lord.
We need to trust God’s goodness and His sovereignty as He has placed our husbands over us and have given them a position of authority. Reacting in a hostile way because you’re impatient, angry, or proud, even if your husband has made a bad decision, doesn’t realize he hurt your feelings, or does realize he hurt your feelings, or hasn’t reconciled with you yet is still sinful. Does this mean you should never confront your husband about his sin? Absolutely not! But in trusting God and respecting our husbands, a godly wife knows when and where and over what issues to do so. There’s a great article I’d recommend: When A Wife Strongly Disagrees With Her Husband – What Can She Do?. *If you are in a situation where you feel you might have to confront your husband or you need to do so, please seek the Lord, spending time in prayer, searching Scripture for yourself, testing the words of this article and my own against the Bible for yourself, and maybe even fasting.*
3)…our level of love for our husbands
Galatians 5:22-23 reads, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control…” If we love the Lord, we will walk in His Spirit and commend ourselves to His service.God calls us in Ephesians 4:2 to “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love,” and again in Philippians 2:2 to be “like-minded, having the same love (that Christ Jesus has for us), being one in spirit and of one mind.” And jumping to verse 4 to not look” to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Love God by serving your husband in love, by being patient with him, putting off selfish thoughts and pride, and paying attention to his interests.
You can review this series and/or catch up by reading, by clicking the following links- When Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect (intro), What is Love? (second intro), Does Patience Grow on Trees? (Part 1), and Does Patience Drive Your Car? (Part 2).
I’m taking an extra long weekend off for Easter weekend, beginning tomorrow. The Love is in the Air Dares are scheduled to post daily, but there will be no Portrait of Eve post tomorrow, Facebook Faith Walk spotlight on Friday, Love Letters from God update on Saturday, or Peace Series post on Monday.
I will be spending the weekend preparing my heart for worship on Sunday by making sure I’m right with God and spending more time with family and friends.
Also I’ll be fasting from Facebook and Twitter over the weekend. You can follow me again next Tuesday.
I will be returning Tuesday to answer emails, respond to comments, and begin posting again.
May you have a blessed Easter weekend!