Sunday, we came to understand that the heart of the Savior is rooted and grounded in long-suffering or patience. We contrasted the impatience of the Israelites with the incredible patience of Jesus Christ. And we saw how His long-suffering was demonstrated as He chose to stay on the cross and pay the penalty for our sins (Hebrews 12:3 and Colossians 2:13-15).
In James chapter 5, we also studied the practice of patience and ultimately came to understand that when we exercise patience, our lives speak volumes to those around us. And that is so important.
But I took to heart a slightly different application. I got to thinking about how much we need to show some patience to yourselves. In this day of “instant” everything, it is easy to assume that spiritual growth and maturity will come that way too.
We come to Christ in saving faith, start to serve Him with some passion and often we then expect that our lives will be thoroughly and completely changed for the good…overnight! But it just doesn’t happen that way. And if we are not careful, it’s too easy to become discouraged and give up.
That’s where the patience with yourself comes in!
A passage of scripture that helps give me perspective in this area is found in Deuteronomy 7:22. The Israelites are in the midst of trying to drive out the 7 “ite” nations who occupy the promised land that God gave them. As they wrestled with that whole process, Moses reminds them:
“The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you, LITTLE by LITTLE.”
They weren’t prepared to instantly conquer all those nations. It would take time and a coordinated effort to accomplish that goal.
In a similar fashion (little by little), the enemies of our souls will be driven out of our lives. Little by little. Not overnight. Not instantly. Not just because we want it to be so. But over time, battles will be won, new territory will be occupied and victories can be celebrated.
Truth be known, it takes some God-given patience to be long suffering with ourselves. Of course, we can’t just lower the godly expectations or be satisfied with spiritual mediocrity. But we must give ourselves some room to learn, some time to mature, some opportunities to apply truth and keep moving towards the goal: Becoming like Jesus.
So, if you are struggling a bit this week with some failures or foibles, just cut yourself some slack. Don’t give up. Don’t quit. Don’t fall back on some ready-made excuses. As you repent, just exercise a little patience with the person in the mirror and keep going.
Little by little , with some patience and long-suffering directed inward, our lives can be shaped into a form that looks like His.