However, because of this I was shown mercy, so that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, as a pattern for those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.
(1 Timothy 1:16 EMTV)
The first of the character traits of a person’s love for his neighbor is his patience. Since we live in a community, it is but obvious that we will brush into each other, hurting or offending each other. There is no way you can live in a community yet not offend anyone in you entire life. It is because the fall not only destroyed Adam’s relationship with God but also his relationship with Eve. Patience is not showed in action but in your reaction. It deals with how you react when someone crosses your line. If the person is an extrovert he might just blow off his head on that person while an introvert will get carry the hurt in his heart. Both of which is unhealthy. But the fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Patience… true patience or longsuffering is a result of genuine and selfless love for people around us.
What did Jesus Say about patience? Jesus said in Luke 17:4, if your brother sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him. The standard for patience that Jesus taught, at times seems unattainable to me. How can I simply let go off someone who offends me 7 times in the same day? I can imagine why the disciples replied to him saying “Increase our faith”. They obviously didn’t think they could ever do that. However all of Jesus’ teaching in the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5-7 seem to emphasize and reemphasize the same over and over again. The KJV bible translates patience as Long-suffering in most places. It brings out the meaning of what Jesus intended it to be. It is not just suffering. It is suffering long. Jesus said Do not resist the one who is evil (Matt 5:39), if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. I have heard people (including me) say, I will not allow anyone to take advantage over me or try to control me. But that’s exactly what Jesus taught and practiced for us to follow.
Paul says, I was shown mercy, so that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, as a pattern for those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. In simple words, Paul says its not my duty to be patient or longsuffering. The Christ who dwells in me will show forth his longsuffering through me. In other words, I am just a branch, he is the vine. It is his duty to bear the fruit. My duty is to just remain attached to the vine.
Strength is born in the deep silence of long-suffering hearts; not amid joy, said Sir Arthur Helps. Patience is one such virtue that cannot be cultivated in our lives without people or situations rising up against us. Just like muscles cannot be developed without pressure and weight applied against your body, a person who wants to be patient should be always willing to face opposition and try to use every opportunity that comes his way to develop patience, instead of blowing off one’s head or getting discouraged.
The bible says, be angry and do not sin. Anger is a natural emotion. At times inherited genetically. Patience keeps you from sinning. Patience does not mean you will not have the natural tendency of getting angry. It means, that you will control yourself even though you are angry. It means, you will forgive even though you are deeply hurt. Forgiving someone who has wronged you is a very essential thing in the new testament church. Jesus said, you should not even pray or worship or give if you haven’t forgiven someone you ought to have. (Matt 5:23-24). If you wont forgive your brother, your Father in heaven wont forgive you either. Forgiveness is appropriated only when it is from the heart.
We have a natural tendency to excuse ourselves saying, we are short tempered in nature or cant bear injustice and all that crap. However, Jesus never made a special provision in his teachings for short tempered people. As disciples of Jesus we are expected to reflect his image in our lives. He suffered till the point of death, without opening his mouth for anything other than to forgive and to bless them that persecuted him. Let us look onto Jesus, the perfect one, who’s the author and finisher of our faith life. If he could do it, you and I can also achieve it through the sin-conquering power of the Holy Spirit.