Truth Matters #80
1 Corinthians 13:4
SHOW SOME PATIENCE
Charles Simeon throughout his ministry fought the good fight of faith. He helped establish a beachhead for evangelical advance within the Church of England in the eighteenth century. From the early days of his ministry at Holy Trinity, in Cambridge, his congregation opposed his ministry. Parishioners locked their pews, and the churchwardens locked the doors. For some years Simeon, basically, preached to bare walls. Yet, the most fundamental conflict that Simeon had was with his own heart. He had a somewhat harsh, and self-assertive air about him. One day, early in Simeon's ministry, he was visiting Henry Venn, who was a pastor twelve miles from Cambridge at Yelling. When he left to go home Venn's daughters complained to their father about his pompous, and prickly manner. Venn took the girls to the back yard, and said, “Pick me one of those peaches.” But it was early summer, and the peaches were still unripe. They asked why he would want the green, unripe fruit. Venn replied, 'Well, my dears, it is green now, and we must wait; but a little more sun, and a few more showers, and the peach will be ripe and sweet. So it is with Mr. Simeon.'
Like Charles Simeon people will try our patience, but we must see them, as did Henry Venn him, as unripen fruit. A little more patience, a little more kindness, and a little more understanding on our part can be used by God to sweeten the sour, win the lost, and mature the immature. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 13:4, “Love suffers long.” Christian love patterned after the cross of Christ is patient, slow to anger. It is a disposition of spirit that doesn’t boil over easily. It holds back, and makes allowances for people’s faults, and failures. It is a love that puts up with a lot (Rom. 12:18).
Showing patience is God’s will, because it is God’s way. God’s love for mankind is patient, and resilient (Psa. 103:8; Rom. 2:4; 2 Peter 3:8). Thankfully, God works with a long rope. God continues to hold out his hand to the rebel as in the days of the prophet Isaiah (Isa. 65:2-3). We worship a God who suffers the insufferable! Who patiently loves those who are hard to love! Let us therefore extend to others that which we have so abundantly received from God ourselves. May we model God’s patient love out of gratitude, and obedience towards Him! But not only out of obedience, but also out of faith. Our patience toward others is to be motivated by faith towards God. Patience is not simply resignation in the face of imperfection, but an active waiting upon God to change that person, just as He did with Paul (1 Tim. 1:12-17). Showing patience is conformity to God, but it is also hope in God! Thomas Carlyle said, “If you have a creed you can afford to wait.” We do have a creed, and it is the gospel of God’s patient love in Christ toward us, therefore we can afford to wait for God to change others.