Monday, September 13 Psalm 103:1-8
“The Lord is . . . slow to anger, abounding in love”
As the Psalmist reminds us, we are all sinners before God. However much God loves us we are still guilty, and we need his mercy and grace to pardon our sin and avoid eternal separation from him (what the Psalmist calls “the pit” in verse 4).
God is angry about our sin because it destroys relationships—our relationship with him and our relationships with each other. His will is for us to love him and love one another, but sin’s will is concerned only with prideful and selfish self-love. We might expect a holy God to exercise his anger toward sin quickly and decisively through final judgment of his creation, but the witness of the Bible is that he is slow to bring about the ultimate justice that his holiness requires.
Since God is willing to be patient with us in our disobedience toward him, should we not, as his children, be patient with one another – even with someone who has wronged us?
Praise the Lord, O my soul, for his merciful and gracious patience toward me. Thank you, heavenly Father, for forgiving me time and again. Strengthen me to bear the fruit of patience, that I may treat others as compassionately as you treat me. Amen.
Tuesday, September 14 2 Peter 3:8-16
“God is being patient for your sake”
There are those who would attempt to make us believe God has forgotten about us. They say that since Jesus promised his second coming and has not yet come, he was either lying or is incapable of keeping his promises. Peter’s first response is that God is not limited by time as are we.
Peter’s second reason for the fact Jesus has not returned is born out of his recollection of Jesus’ words on the subject, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons . . .” (Acts 1:7). “But of that day and hour no one knows . . .” (Matthew 24:36). So, God is not being slow about his promises.
God is never late. He is always on time, and the right time for Christ’s return includes the loving patience of God as he gives more people the opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, repent and believe the gospel, and be saved.
Dear God. You were patient enough to wait on me that I may be saved. As I eagerly await the return of Christ and the revelation of a new heaven and a new earth, may my life give evidence of the fruit of patience, for the sake of others. Amen.
Wednesday, September 15 1 Timothy 1:13-17
“God’s great patience with even the worst sinners”
Here we have one of the times when Paul includes his own testimony in a letter, celebrating his personal relationship with Christ. Though many years have passed, Paul never gets too far away from his conversion experience. And the message that comes through his story is the assurance that if Christ could change him, Christ can change anyone. As the essence of the Gospel is Jesus himself, so the essence of Christian witnessing is telling how the story of Jesus has shaped our own stories.
It was not only as an act of kindness that God showed Paul mercy, true and wonderful as that is. Verse 16 explains that he was a showcase for God’s unlimited patience. In a sense all those who are forgiven sinners display God’s mercy and patience. But Paul sees himself as a prototype of all hostile, sinful rebels against God, whom God patiently tolerates until they encounter Christ and accept him as their Lord and Savior.
All honor and glory to you, O Lord God, forever and ever! You are the eternal King, the unseen one who, though you see my sin, is patient with me. Amen.
Thursday, September 16 James 5:7-11
“Be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return“
God is faithful and God is good. It is the good and faithful Lord who will come to fulfill human and cosmic destiny according to God’s own purpose. James encourages his Christian friends to cultivate the fruit of patience as they wait.
James uses the parable of the farmer who waits for the harvest to ripen to describe the kind of patience he has in mind. This kind of waiting is well-informed waiting, because a harvest will only come after a time of careful cultivation by a person who trusts in the growing. While we wait we don’t fret, because we realize that worry will not hasten the growth. Rather, since the seed is in the ground and God is in control, we wait patiently for the time of the harvest to arrive.
Meanwhile, our responsibility as a farmer in God’s field is to faithfully keep the plants watered and allow the growing to happen in its time. This is wise counsel for any Christian who is anxious about the faith journey, and especially about the slowness of spiritual growth that we often observe in ourselves and others.
Heavenly Father, because I trust in you to fulfill your grand purpose in your time, I will wait patiently without panic or excessive worry. Amen.
Friday, September 17 Colossians 3:12-17
“Clothe yourself with . . . patience”
Paul lists five virtues dealing with Christian behavior that are particularly important in relationships with others: tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Each of these are fruit that God desires to be cultivated in our lives. In this context, patience can be defined as the virtue which refrains from exacting revenge or reprisals against enemies and is willing to endure wrongs.
Think about the noun form: patient. In English this noun refers not only to the character trait but also to the person under the care of a health professional. In fact, the latter usage developed out of the notion during the Middle Ages that anyone suffering patiently was a “patient.” Hence, what “being patient” and “being a patient” have in common is this: both require that a person come to terms with yielding control to another. Instead of demanding satisfaction when wronged, the one who is patient is willing to forgive—remembering that God has forgiven our offenses against him.
Thank you, God, for being patient with me, waiting for me to confess my sin and forgiving me so you and I can return to a good relationship. Help me to cultivate the fruit of patience in my relationships with others so that what I experience with you, I may also experience with them.
Saturday, September 18 Ephesians 4:1-2
“Be patient with each other”
Paul points out that Christians are called to practice love in their relationships with each other. This includes being patient, something which many of us need to profess that we lack, especially when it comes to people who irritate us, whether or not they are fellow believers.
Scripture does not give us an out. If we don’t have patience, then it is our responsibility to cultivate it and improve in this area of our spiritual life. As with the other fruit of the Christian life, the Holy Spirit is our resource. This does not mean that we can just open some internal spiritual valve and patience will come gushing out. When we are engaged with others, we need to apply our will as well as the help of the Spirit in order to practice patience.
Holy Spirit, be my strong helper so when I am tempted to impatience, you remind my mind and fortify my will to practice the fruit of patience. Amen.