Friday, April 17, 2009

Patience Vs Wrath

Today, I give you another installment on our pursuit of a virtuous life. I must admit, this has drawn on for quite a long time, this adventure of virtue. There has been much to explore and write about. I have not kept with it, posting on it each day until it was complete. I have done much pausing between virtue posts. Reason being, the time it takes to research each subject. The research of each subject is laborious and takes hours to prepare to write. Therefore, this is the reason for the breaks.

So, I give you today what the bible tells us about patience versus wrath.

James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

You know the old saying "never pray for patience!” Lots of folks think if you pray for patience God will answer with a trial, therefore avoid it at all costs. I beg to differ. Although it may be true we do learn patience from our trails and God does allow trials to come into our lives. Why is that a bad thing? Why do we avoid trials at all cost?

Most often we avoid trials because they are painful. We don't like pain. There seems to be a thought process within us, that happiness is a life without any pain. If we avoid the pain in life we will be happy.

I propose this.... If we avoid pain, we avoid happiness. If we avoid the things that bring pain in our lives we also end up avoiding love, hope, joy and grace. It is in our pain that we draw closer to God and things happen we would never experience any other way. It is in the trials of life that we let go and let God. When we release the control into God hands He then does amazing things for and through us. This is why James tells us to count our trials as joy, not because they lack pain but because they bring us before God and perfect us.

Instead of avoiding patience at all costs, let’s commit to beginning to embrace it. Can we do that today? Can we explore it with an open mind, knowing that it will enhance us and create in us a closer image of Christ? Let's try.

Some describe patience as a delay in getting what they want. "If I get what I want in the end, I can wait patiently for it" What happens if in the end you don't get what you want? I suppose you are then disappointed because your expectations weren't meet. Patience is not this delay of getting what is wanted but a much different thing. It is more a state of mind, a way of being. It is not about getting what you want but instead, a state of being at peace, being able to endure suffering and circumstance without complaint.

A person with patience is able to resolve conflict peacefully as apposed to resorting to violence. They have an increased ability to forgive and show mercy. They are long suffering and giving of grace to others. In our fast paced, self-centered society, patience has become a virtue that is hard to come by but one much needed.

Ephesians 4:1-3 walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Colossians 3:12 put on the virtues of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience.

Paul instructed the Ephesians and those at Colosse to walk in a manner worthy of their calling. We are called to the same thing. We are to walk in patience, eager to maintain unity in the bond of peace. We as Christians are to draw upon our strengths from one another, be unified, fighting the enemy by being bonded on the call of Christ. We are to have patience and endurance, to hold each other up not tear each other down. When we fight amongst ourselves we do nothing but build a foothold for the enemy.

We are called to unity and patience within the body of Christ, but we are also called to show mercy to those not in the body of Christ. We can not expect someone that does not know Christ to behave like they do. If they do not have the Spirit within them they are not going to act like Christ or even understand it. We must learn patience and love them because Christ loves them. It is part of our calling to love the unlovable.

On the other end of the spectrum lies a vice that if left unchecked can be scary, it is the vice of wrath. I've heard many speak of anger and wrath as if they were interchangeable, but they are not the same. Anger is a feeling while wrath is an act.

Anger is a feeling of displeasure resulting from injury, mistreatment or opposition. It often shows itself in a desire to fight back at the cause of the feeling. Wrath on the other hand is any action carried out in great anger, especially for punishment or vengeance.

Ephesians 4:26-27 says "Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath, not give place to the devil.

Anger in itself is not sin. Acting in wrath out of anger for retribution or vengeance is sin.

Ephesians 4:30-32 and do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as god in Christ forgave you.

When we act out in our anger we grieve the Holy Spirit that lives within us. We are to let all those things go and instead have a forgiving heart full of tender mercy. God forgave us much, we deserved to die for our sin but He did not let us. Instead He came to earth and paid our penalty for us on the cross. Can we not forgive others? Who are we not to forgive, in light of how much we have been forgiven?

Romans 12:19-20 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head."

I will conclude with these questions for you ponder:

Have you really loved your brother, your sister, all those in Christ around you?
Have you feed your enemy, gave Him a drink when He was thirsty?
Have you shown as much mercy to others as has been shown by Christ to you?

If your answer is no, then I would ask why not?

1 comment:

Darlene said...

I tagged you on my blog. Hope this is okay. Come by and check it out!