Overcoming Sin through Christ: Impatience

  Overcoming Sin through Christ

A Comprehensive List of Sins

(Alphabetically Arranged)

Richard Hollerman

The plan of this study is simple.  We will look at a large number of sins, one by one, alphabetically.  We will define the sin, describe it, and comment on it, along with noticing Scripture references on the particular entry.  Some illustrations will be offered along with the description.

Impatience

How well would you do if someone were to give you a test on your patience? When you are in a traffic jam, or when you miss your appointment because of being late, or when children around you are unruly, do you practice patience?  Do you commit your situation to the Lord or do you allow ungodly frustration to lead you to impatient responses?

We all know that patience is a virtue and a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).  When Paul describes the characteristics of true love, he begins with patience: “Love is patient” (1 Corinthians 13:4a).  In the English language, patience means “the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain without complaint, loss of temper, or anger.”[1]  It “emphasizes calmness, self-control, and the willingness or ability to tolerate delay.”[2]  In the Greek, the verb would be makrothymeo (or makrothumeo) and the noun is makrothymia (or makrothumia). 

Mounce explains the terms in this way: “From macros, ‘long’ (in terms of time), and thymos, ‘the soul’ as the seat of feelings and passions (including anger, temper), this word group suggests the same as the Hebrew, ‘to be long of feeling, delay one’s anger’ (as in ‘longsuffering’).”[3]  Although sometimes they are confused, we must see a distinction between makrothumia (patience) and hupomone, “an abiding under” or endurance, perseverance, and steadfastness.[4]

The basis of God’s appeal for us to be patient is His own patience.  We are to be like Him (Ephesians 5:1).  Peter shows the importance of the Lord’s patience—which is the basis of ours.  In 2 Peter 3:9 we read, “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.”  He is patient or long-suffering as He waits for more to repent of their sins and come to Him.  Then, in verse 15, Peter says, “Regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.”

If it were not for God’s patience, we would all be lost.  He gives the time of the flood as an example of God’s patience.  While Noah was preparing the ark to save his family, God gave the disobedient time to repent, thus Peter refers to “the patience of God” that “kept waiting in the days of Noah” (1 Peter 3:20).  As it turned out, no one repented, and only Noah and his family were saved from the destruction of this great deluge.

Paul also found that the Lord’s patience was what He needed: “I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:16).  If it were not for Christ’s (and God’s) patience, we would all be lost.  Paul asks this pointed question: “Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4).  We would immediately be consumed if it were not for God’s patience and forbearance. 

“God’s patience provides the extra time sometimes needed to bring someone to repentance; but when that person fails to repent, the punishment is even greater.”[5]  I recall how one brother often prayed, “Thank you, Lord, for not cutting us off in our sin!”  He was referring to the patience of God that did not bring judgment while we were still sinners.  Are you thankful for God’s patience toward you?

We are to have patience just as God does.  The Hebrew writer says that we are to be “imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (6:12).  James commands, “Be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. . . . You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near” (5:7-8).  Jesus emphasizes the importance of patience in forgiving others (cf. Matthew 18:26, 29).  As we mentioned before, patience is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). 

As Christians, Paul calls on us to exercise patience along with other spiritual qualities (Ephesians 4:2).  He says that with God’s power working in us, we may attain “all steadfastness and patience” (Colossians 1:11).  We are to “put on” various spiritual virtues, including “patience” (3:12).  He says that we are to “be patient with everyone” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).  Paul testified that patience was in his own life (2 Corinthians 6:6; 2 Timothy 3:10).  Abraham “patiently waited” and thus “obtained the promise” (Hebrews 6:15).  This is the kind of attitude we should have—an attitude of long-suffering.  Paul says that we are to “preach the word” which includes “reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2).

If patience is what God wants, we know that impatience is what displeases Him.  How can we rejoice in God’s patience toward us when we are impatient toward others?  Since we are to be like God (Ephesians 5:1), and He is patient (Romans 2:4), we can see that we too are to have “great patience” (2 Timothy 4:2).  Since we wouldn’t want God to be impatient with us, we should not be impatient with others.  If we have an impatient attitude, we will be filled with anger toward people and also anger toward situations we don’t like.  If we are impatient, we will not put up with difficult, hard, sad, and unwanted circumstances. 

When you are caught in a traffic jam while driving, do you become angry and disturbed, irrational and vulgar in your speech?  When someone holds you up and wastes your time, do you become impatient and therefore angry, or do you accept the delay as part of God’s will?  Do you lose your temper when things don’t go well in your daily life—or do you patiently deal with the problem in a rational and Godly way?  We must recognize impatience for the sin it is, a sin against love (1 Corinthians 13:4).

 



[1] Random Hose Webster’s College Dictionary.

[2] The American Heritage College Dictionary.

[3] Expository Dictionary.

[4] W. E. Vine, Expository Dictionary.

[5] Mounce, Expository Dictionary.

 

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