Patience is a part of the fruit of the Spirit. Patience is also a two-edged sword…or at least a two-way street. There’s patience that we need to show to others, but then there’s the patience we need to have with our self.
There’s nothing wrong with having expectations. In a roundabout way there’s almost everything right with having them. The danger comes from having expectations that go above and beyond what’s reasonable.
I don’t expect my daughter to know how to do math right now – she still has to get a grasp on saying her numbers. For me to expect anything else would be ridiculous. She needs time. She needs to be taught. She needs patience and so do I! Is it a contradiction to put a “!” next to the word patience?
Along those same lines we need to be patient with those whose knowledge about Jesus isn’t as great as our own. We should encourage others to study, we should encourage others to look to Jesus for their example and we should be ready to help if needed, but we must remember that at the beginning people need to learn to take “baby steps” as they learn about the gospel.
At the same time we need to remember to have patience with our self. I know we’re not promised tomorrow, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s true that there is huge peril in not progressing, but there can also be huge peril in being too hard on one’s self. Patience is not an excuse for sin, but there is no sin in having or showing patience. In many ways patience shows maturity for maturity owns up but does not quit.
The Bible is too clear to miss the importance of spiritual expectations, but the Bible is also just as clear when it comes to the importance of spiritual patience. Patience is a virtue that carries a lot of “wait” but patience is what God shows us so we can show it towards others.
“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
PS: In a ironic turn of events, for some reason the title of “Patience” won’t post at the top of this article – even after I tried five times.