One morning while we waited for Ricky to bring our breakfast I asked Stan, “You ever get impatient with people who are slow to respond to what you tell them about God’s provision for them?”
“Only when I focus on my perspective,” Stan replied, “rather than focusing on God’s view of the situation.”
“Your perspective versus God’s?” I commented. “Why might there be a difference?”
“Same old thing,” Stan said. “Self. Self-focus, wanting what I want, and wanting it now, rather than being surrendered to the fact, and it is a fact, that God’s will is going to be done and His purposes are going to be accomplished. Period. In His timing, not mine.”
Continuing, he added, “Seems to me that the apostle Peter pretty much covered this in a single verse in his second letter where he wrote about God’s patience towards ‘any’ and ‘all’.”
“Any and all?” I replied. “How so?”
“It’s where Peter wrote about God not wanting any to perish, but for all to come to repentance,” Stan said. “It seems that Peter wrote that in the context of God’s patience, and I think I am to have the same patience towards all of those people who have not yet come to repentance regardless of how many times I have told them about God’s provision.”
“But that kind of patience is hard, isn’t it?” I responded.
“Again,” Stan replied, “I think the answer to that has to do with self. Yes, it’s hard if I am focusing only on what I want, rather than being surrendered to what God has provided through the Holy Spirit and His patience.”
“Oh,” I said, “you think the Holy Spirit’s fruit of patience applies to this sort of thing, being patient with other people and their reluctance to come to repentance?”
“Sure do!” Stan replied. “Why wouldn’t it apply? Patience is patience. If God is patient and if He has given me the Holy Spirit who has the fruit of patience, who am I to limit the scope of that patience?”
“Seems to me,” he added, “that I am to be patient. Period. Whether it is patience waiting for the stop light to change to green, or whether it is patience in waiting for my neighbor to come to repentance. It’s not up to me to limit God’s ‘any’ and ‘all’.”
Bible verses to consider:
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9.
And I will ask the Father; and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you. John 14:16-17.
But the fruit of the Spirit is . . . patience, . . . . Galatians 5:22.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for your patience in waiting for me to accept your free and gracious provision of life eternally with you when my time here is completed. Thank you, too, for your patience while you wait for me to pursue the eternal life of knowing you and Jesus on this side of eternity. I confess that too often I do not display towards others the patience you intend by giving me your Holy Spirit whose fruit includes patience. Please forgive my lack of patience towards the any and all you want to come to repentance. And please help me in following every step of your lead so I do, in fact, manifest the patience you intend in every circumstance and with every person. Thank you that I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Think on this: Have you come to repentance so you know you will spend eternity in God’s presence when it is time? If you have, do you thank God for His patience while He waited for you? If you have not accepted His free and gracious provision of life eternally with Him, why? Are you testing His patience? If you are a Christian, how are doing with being patient with those who have not yet come to repentance? As patient as you would like? As patient as God would like? If you sense the need for change in this regard, how is that going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?