1 Corinthians 13:4 tells us, “Love is patient.” Patience is a part of love that doesn’t feel fun at the beginning. It feels like an act of self-control rather than passion, as if the two aren’t perfectly connected. And it often comes across as a sign of weakness rather than an attribute of the bold and powerful we so often admire. But Scripture teaches us a different view of patience. 2 Peter 3:8-9 says, “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” God, in his passionate desire for restored relationship with all his children, has perfect patience toward us. His passion leads him to patience. And it is in his desire to see us grow in all manner of holiness and godliness that he waits to bring about the restoration of all things to him with the coming of the new heavens and earth. Let’s open our hearts today to become more like our heavenly Father and allow him to create in us a heart worthy of him who has so patiently loved us.
I fear that much of the bride of Christ is living day-to-day, getting by until Jesus returns. And I fear that in our complacency we are not engaging in the purposes for which Christ came. God’s intention here is to use us to bring about a saving knowledge to all those around us. His plan was for restoration of relationship here, not just biding our time while suffering from a lack of his reality working in our lives. 2 Peter 3:14 says, “Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for [new heavens and a new earth], be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.” And Hebrews 12:3-11 says,
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Because God loves us he does not desire for us to remain as we were or as we are. His plan is to do such a work in us that we live on this earth as Jesus did. But he is entirely patient to accomplish this work. He is entirely patient with our sanctification.
When I began engaging in the process of sanctification I was filled with frustration. For the first time I began to see all the dirt and muck covering up this beautiful gift of a new nature God had given me. I felt like I was never going to be able to get through all the sin that seemed to so entangle me to my old nature, and I was right. Scripture teaches us that it is God, in his patience, who produces holiness and godliness. In my own strength I have no ability to change my heart. My only job is to engage with him and allow him to work in and through me. Philippians 2:13 says, “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” The NLT version says it this way: “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” God’s desire isn’t for us to engage in works that have the appearance of morality but aren’t flowing from the true desire of our hearts. His longing is to mold and shape our hearts by his love into a perfect reflection of his heart so that we might live true lives of holiness out of the overflow of what he has done in us. Only he can accomplish such a work. Only he can fill us with the ability to truly love. And as 2 Peter 3:9 tells us, he is patient to do so.
Spend time in prayer discovering the patient heart of your heavenly Father. Spend time allowing his love to draw you into the process of sanctification. And allow the Holy Spirit to do a mighty work in you today, bringing about holiness and godliness where it seemed only sin and worldliness could dwell.