Read Psalm 94 and Galatians 5:16-26
I talk a lot about patience with my kids.
“I’ll get your toy when we stop the car. Be patient.”
“Dinner will be ready in 5 minutes. Be patient.”
“You will be four on your next birthday. Be patient.”
OK, so maybe I just say “Be patient” a lot. We sing the song from Music Machine to mix it up a little.
Don’t be in such a hurry.
When you get impatient you only start to worry.
Remember that God is patient too
and think of all the times when others have to wait for you.
Patience is a pretty important character attribute in the New Testament. It is an aspect of the definition of love (I Corinthians 13). It also made the short list in the Fruit of the Spirit.
“But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.” Notice, one fruit, nine segments—like an orange. An orange would not be an orange without the wedges. We will not bear fruit if all of these traits are not present. Since patience is part of the definition of love and it’s part of the fruit of the spirit, I can only assume that it is a rather important characteristic.
I say patience, talk patience and wish to be patient without really thinking about what it means. I came across this definition in a Bible study I did a few years back. I’m not sure how it didn’t impact me back then, but it sure did this time I read it! A patient person is “a person who is able to avenge himself yet refrains from doing so.”
Able to avenge himself. Often we think of patience as weakness, but having the ability to avenge puts a person in a position of power.
King Saul’s rejection of God’s authority sent him hunting David and his rag-tag group through the hill country.
David knew the facts. He knew Saul was seeking to destroy him out of selfish admission and that God would eventually put David on the throne to rule over Israel.
So one night, as the king lay sleeping in a cave, David and his right hand man snuck passed dozens of guards to Saul’s side. David removed his knife.
He had the power to avenge himself and fulfill God’s plan for Israel by taking the life of his enemy.
David instead used his knife to cut off a piece of the king’s garment.
“The Lord is a God who avenges. Oh God who avenges, shine forth!” David pleads at the opening of Psalm 94. He knew better than to usurp God’s role in this scenario. “But the Lord has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge. He will repay them for their sins.”
This definition of patience applies outside of the high drama in the hill country of Israel as well. In fact, it applies to us and our children to this very day.
When we “loose our patience” with our children, we are using our position of authority over them to exact our own vengeance. Whether we dish out rash punishments, give the silent treatment or rage with our words, we are avenging our annoyance by taking it out on our children, our husbands or the customer service representative on the other end of the phone line at the credit card company.
Children are born knowing how to avenge themselves. Generally it is with loud wailing and flailing limbs when they aren’t getting what they want. Also in Psalm 94, David says, “Blessed is the one you discipline, Lord, the one you teach from your law; you grant them relief from days of trouble” (v 12-13). Since this whole chapter is about waiting for God to avenge enemies, I can only assume the discipline David refers to is that of learning to be patient.
We must learn to discipline ourselves into patience so we can help our children do the same. In doing so, our families will be more fruitful and will be granted “relief from days of trouble.”